There was a palpable sense of excitement amongst business owners and the public as the Overstrand eased into the more relaxed Level 2 lockdown restrictions that came into effect at midnight on Monday 17 August.
Several local businesses owners said they expect to see a rise in turnover in the next few weeks as economic activity starts stabilising and increasing.
Cape Whale Coast Tourism Manager, Frieda Lloyd said most accommodation establishments, activity operators, wineries and restaurants have decided to reopen completely. “Luckily, most wineries have a restaurant so visitors will be able to enjoy estate wines with their meals over weekends,” she said.
“Activity-based tourism is becoming exceedingly popular and the Cape Whale Coast has no shortage of activities to entertain the whole family.”
A new work-from-second-home trend can be seen in our towns as many holiday home owners from other parts of the country who can work from home are moving into their holiday homes instead of staying in big cities.
According to Lloyd, forward bookings for accommodation and activities are showing a steady increase and are expected to climb further.
The relaxation of the lockdown restrictions has come as the country sees a steady decline in new case numbers. President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday that at the peak of infections just one month ago, South Africa recorded around 12 000 new cases a day. This has dropped to an average of around 5 000 a day over the past week, and on Sunday the number of new daily infections stood at 3 692. The country’s recovery rate stands at 80%.
On Monday the total number of active cases in the Western Cape stood at 6 336 and in the Overstrand on 46.
Although the new lockdown restrictions bring a greater level of freedoms, Ramaphosa warned that it was too soon to celebrate. “We are still very much in the middle of a deadly pandemic that has claimed over 11 000 lives in South Africa. At more than half a million confirmed cases, we still have the fifth highest number of infections in the world. And there is always a chance of a resurgence of the disease,” he said.
He mentioned New Zealand and several parts of Europe as examples where stricter lockdown regulations were reintroduced as a ‘second wave’ of infections were reported soon after restrictions were eased.
In his weekly letter to the nation, Ramaphosa said we now need to manage this risk and ensure the gains we have made thus far in containing the pandemic’s spread are not reversed. “The greatest threat to the health of the nation right now is complacency. It may be that we are now permitted to meet friends and family, to visit entertainment venues, to travel for leisure and to consume alcohol in restaurants, bars and taverns. But as the old adage goes, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
“The ‘second wave’ of infections that several other countries have experienced is an ever-present possibility for us too. Although many restrictions have been lifted, it does not mean they will not return should we experience a significant rise in infections. This pandemic is a matter of life and death. We need to adapt, and we need to be vigilant,” he said.
Efforts to save economy underway
According to Pres Ramaphosa, in the days, weeks and months that lie ahead, we must urgently focus our efforts on recovery. “Our economy and our society have suffered a great deal. As we return to economic activity across almost all industries – and work to repair the damage done – we have a responsibility to not let our guard down as individuals, employers, communities, families, professionals, workers and citizens. None of us wants a return to the early days of extreme lockdown restrictions. We want to move on with our lives. We want our friends and loved ones to remain healthy and safe.
“As a nation, let us continue to work together to ensure that we progress. The move to Alert Level 2 of the lockdown is not a ‘free for all.’ The rules on social distancing, mask wearing, and social gatherings remain,” said Ramaphosa.
In his response to the easing of restrictions, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said he welcomes the announcements which will help ease the burden that many businesses have faced over the past few months. “We now need to tackle the second pandemic of unemployment, hunger and increased levels of poverty which we face.
“As a province, we welcome the announcements which will impact the tourism, hospitality and agri-processing industries, which are significant job creators in the Western Cape. As the Western Cape Government, we are going to be committing our energy to developing a recovery plan which will focus on jobs, safety, dignity and wellbeing, while ensuring that our hotspot interventions remain in place to slow the spread of the virus,” said Winde.
“We have worked around the clock as a province to slow the spread of Covid-19 and to put in place all of the medical interventions that were required for this pandemic. We will not lose any of this focus and drive as we now turn our attention to the economy, to saving jobs and addressing the humanitarian crisis. In return, we ask the people of this province to partner with us. To step up and to take personal responsibility to ensure that as we restart the engines of our economy, we continue to contain and slow Covid-19.
“Businesses must operate safely, with all of the correct protocols in place, and as individuals we must abide by the remaining regulations, wear our masks, practice social distancing and keep up with hygiene practices such as hand washing and regular cleaning of surfaces,” he concluded.
The following is allowed under Level 2 restrictions:
- All inter-provincial travel is allowed;
- Accommodation, hospitality venues and tours are permitted according to approved protocols to ensure social distancing. For the first time since lockdown started, Airbnb establishments are allowed to operate;
- Restaurants, bars and taverns are permitted to operate according to approved protocols in terms of times of operation and numbers of people;
- The suspension of the sale of alcohol is lifted, subject to restrictions that include the sale of alcohol for on-site consumption in licensed establishments until 22:00. Liquor outlets are allowed to sell alcohol for off-site consumption from Monday to Thursday between 09:00 and 17:00. Thus, you are allowed to consume alcohol at a restaurant or bar until 22:00 on a weekend;
- Restrictions on the sale of tobacco are lifted the president said on Saturday evening. But on Monday the Government Gazette listing the new regulations made no mention of this;
- Family and social visits are allowed, although people are urged to exercise extreme caution and undertake such visits only if necessary. No more than 10 visitors are allowed at your house at one time;
- Beaches, parks and nature reserves are open;
- Gyms and fitness centres will reopen with strict health and safety protocols in place.
The following restrictions will remain in place:
- Current restrictions on international travel;
- No gatherings of more than 50 people will be permitted. Among others, this includes funerals, weddings and religious events. Night vigils are still not permitted;
- Spectators will not be permitted at sporting events;
- No more than 50 people are allowed at events, in cinemas or gyms. The same applies to sports grounds and fields as well as swimming pools;
- The curfew will remain in place between 22:00 and 04:00;
- While restaurants and taverns may open with a limit of 50 people, nightclubs must remain closed;
- No initiation practices are allowed for males or females until the national state of disaster is over;
- The wearing of masks in public places still remains obligatory.
People are encouraged to stay at home if they can and, if possible, to work from home, especially if they are over the age of 60 or have underlying health conditions.