WATCH | Despite second wave, hundreds seen crowding Durban beach without wearing masks

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  • Despite a second wave of Covid-19 infections in South Africa, tourists were seen crowding the Durban beachfront on Monday.
  • Hundreds of people cavorted without masks or observing social distancing.
  • Both Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape have looked at closing beaches and parks during the festive season.

Durban's beachfront is currently in the midst of its usual December holiday boom, despite the declaration of an official second wave of Covid-19 infections by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

News24 visited the Durban beachfront this week where hundreds of residents and tourists were found openly disregarding Covid-19 regulations. 

Authorities patrolling the beachfront, including Durban City officials, were seen casually driving past those who were not wearing masks or practising social distancing.

Adjacent to the North Beach pier and heading toward South Beach, huge crowds were observed enjoying the December recess period as usual with law enforcement, within a space of an hour, driving past three to four times without reprimanding anyone. 

Speaking to News24, car guard Russel Break, 26, said he had been working around the beachfront for about a year.

He said he did not fear getting coronavirus because those who tipped him always sanitised first. 

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"They just drop or throw the money in my hands. They sanitise first and they lay it in my hands. I'm not afraid of getting coronavirus because I am willing to protect [myself]."

The Kwazulu-Natal government resolved to shut down all beaches in the province, but Premier Sihle Zikalala later said the matter was under discussion with the national government and had not been resolved, the Witness reported.

This was due to a debate on whether or not the use of beaches should be permitted and only swimming prohibited.

Zikalala said the provincial government had opted to regulate beach use instead of closing beaches.

Zikalala’s spokesperson Lennox Mabaso and KZN police have not yet responded to a request for comment.

Ethekwini's head of parks, recreation and culture, Thembinkosi Ngcobo, told News24 that he had taken a walk to the beach in the afternoon and noticed the same behaviour of visitors.

"Members seem to think masks and other Covid-19 protocols are not necessary on the beach," he said.

They would conduct a "massive public education campaign" on the beach.

"This will include distribution of pamplets and regular public announcements over [the] public address system. This will be accompanied by strict law enforcement by relevant personnel," Ngcobo said.

Addressing the nation on Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that all Kwazulu-Natal beaches would be closed on 16, 25, 26 and 31 December as well as 1, 2 and 3 January 2021.

All beaches in the Eastern Cape and Garden Route would be closed from 16 December to 3 January 2021.

All other beaches in the Western Cape and Northern Cape remain open. However, these beachs and parks would only be open between 9am and 6pm.

Ramaphosa said the situation would be monitored daily by local authorities to ensure compliance with the regulations on gatherings and the prohibition of alcohol.

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