With the summer holidays upon us it is now up to all of us to ensure that everyone who lives, works, and plays on the Cape Whale Coast enjoys a fun-filled summer holiday season in a responsible manner.
This year a new normal will determine the way in which we celebrate the festive season. For the sake of all of us, we need to take heed and observe the very basic and easy-to-follow safety protocols that have been put into place by the government.
“There can no longer be any doubt – the country has entered a second wave of Coronavirus infections,” said Pres Cyril Ramaphosa in his address on Monday evening. “The daily average of new cases nationally over the last 7 days is 74% higher than the previous 7 days. In this time, the number of new cases has increased from a daily average of around 3 800 to just over 6 600 a day.”
“The largest source of outbreaks are social gatherings and parties, especially where alcoholic drinks are consumed. These super-spreader events, together with our failure to adhere to the basic precautions at all times, have led to a massive rise in infections. The festive season now poses the greatest threat to the health and wellbeing of our nation – and to the recovery of our economy,” said Ramaphosa.
The Overstrand is still in the privileged position of not being declared a national Coronavirus hotspot, although cases have also been rising steadily here over the past week. The president said that the current Level 1 restrictions would be strictly enforced, together with a number of additional measures that will stay in place until 3 January 2021.
Of importance for residents and visitors to the Cape Whale Coast is that beaches and public parks will for the foreseeable future remain open between 09:00 and 18:00, although no live music, performances, festivals or large gatherings will be allowed. Should the situation deteriorate, further action will be taken.
In addition, everyone must wear a mask at all times when they are out in public. This includes when making use of public transport, and visiting retail and government premises. The responsibility to ensure compliance rests with the owners, managers and employers, who will be liable for a fine or imprisonment of up to six months if the basic rules are not adhered to.
Ramaphosa said in order to prevent super-spreader events, gathering will be limited to no more than 100 people at indoor venues and 250 at outdoor venues.
Wherever people congregate no more than 50% of a venue’s capacity may be utilised and social distancing and mask-wearing protocols must be followed. Enforcement of these rules will be strictly monitored by law enforcement officials.
The President said one of the greatest challenges during the festive season is the huge crowds that flock to beaches and public spaces. The consumption of alcohol will not be tolerated in any public space.
In addition, a new curfew from 23:00 to 04:00 came into effect on Tuesday, with bars and restaurants having to close at 22:00. “We should all remember that these curfew hours also apply to Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. This means that we will all need to make changes to the way in which we celebrate these occasions,” Ramaphosa said.
Retail outlets will only be allowed to sell alcohol from Monday to Thursday from 10:00 to 18:00. Registered wineries may continue with tastings and sales for off-site consumption during normal licenced hours. These regulations are aimed at allowing restaurants, bars, and wineries to continue operating and earning an income while preventing reckless all-night partying. Ramaphosa said the new restrictions seek to strike a balance between saving lives and preserving livelihoods.
The four provinces that are leading the second wave are the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. In addition to Nelson Mandela Bay, the Sarah Baartman end Garden Route Districts have now also been declared Coronavirus hotspots. In all of the Eastern Cape as well as the Garden Route beaches and public parks will be closed for the duration of the festive season from 16 December to 3 January 2021.
Please do not drink and drive, do not drink and swim, and abide by traffic rules and blue flag beach rules. Continue to wear your masks and remember to regularly sanitise or wash your hands. We are all eager to get back to our pre-Covid lives. Managing the risks can help us get there faster.
- THINK ABOUT SPACE. If someone stands too close, kindly and politely ask them to step back.
- THINK ABOUT VENTILATION. Ensuring good ventilation is an effective way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 whilst enjoying the summer breeze. Please open all available windows.
- THINK ABOUT THE SMART CHOICE: Inviting people over? Keep your gathering small and outdoors.
Ramaphosa said we have been here before and just as we did during Easter, we need to once again adhere to the basic health protocols. “If we do not do things differently this festive season, we will greet the New Year not with joy, but with sorrow. Many of our friends, relatives and co-workers will be infested, some will get severely ill and some, tragically, will die. Unless we do things differently, this will be the last Christmas for many South Africans.”