eThekwini Municipality’s Metro Police will be out in force to stop people from flocking to Durban’s beaches.
On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that beaches and public parks in KwaZulu-Natal will be closed on December 16, 25, 26 and 31 and on January 1, 2 and 3. On other days, beaches will only be open between 9 am and 6 pm; and the consumption of alcohol in public spaces is strictly forbidden.
“The situation will be monitored daily by local authorities to ensure compliance with the regulations on gatherings and the prohibition of alcohol,” Ramaphosa said.
“In instances where there are large crowds or poor compliance with safety measures, specific beaches and recreational parks will be closed.”
The measures have been put in place to reduce a huge spike in Covid-19 infections. The country is currently averaging around 6,600 infections a day.
KZN is one of four provinces leading the second wave of infections. The others are the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Gauteng.
eThekwini mayoral spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa said the city already had a comprehensive festive season management system in place, but planned to review this in light of Ramaphosa’s announcement.
“The Metro Police will be working closely with the police to minimise traffic congestion on the roads in and around the beachfront,” he added.
“Access routes will also be manned to ensure that no one, except for residents, can pass along that area.”
Chief executive officer of Ugu South Coast Tourism, Phelisa Mangcu, said the new regulations would help manage the influx of people to beaches.
“It is not a complete shutdown, so our visitors will still be able to go to the beach on other days throughout the holiday period. They will also be able to explore other outdoor experiences on the KZN South Coast, outside of the beaches,” Mangcu added.
Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, chief executive officer of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, said it was vital for provincial and local government, and the SAPS, to manage crowds at beaches.
“They have to ensure that tourists can move around safely and provide proper access control where it is needed,” he added.
Tshivhengwa urged people not to cancel their holidays on the coast as this could severely impact the tourism sector, which is only just beginning to show signs of recovery. “I hope that people will still spend their well-earned money on a holiday here in SA. We want people to go to restaurants and to support local businesses,” he added.
Musa Mntambo, spokesperson for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, said day visitors to its parks and reserves would be searched and prohibited from entering if found to have alcohol with them.
The organisation will also be checking on beach-goers in areas under its control, to stop illegal drinking.
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Visitors to places like Midmar Dam will, however, be allowed to enter with alcohol.
Chairperson of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) in KwaZulu-Natal, Boy Zondi, said the taxi industry would comply with the new regulations, despite the very real impact they would have on minibus operators.
“It’s sad news for all businesses, including the taxi industry, that beaches had to be closed because of Covid-19,” he added.
“We had hoped that we could work in the festive season, but, at the end of the day, the president is trying to protect lives by closing the beaches and we must help too.”
Zondi said people who had booked to go to the beach on Christmas and New Year could get a refund.
He added that Santaco would continue to enforce Covid-19 regulations, including the wearing of masks and the use of hand sanitisers.
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Bheki Ntuli, is due to visit beaches in Durban and Richards Bay today to check on the enforcement of Covid-19 regulations. He will be accompanied by local mayors, senior police officers and representatives of other law enforcement agencies.“