All planned events in the Western Cape’s Garden Route region have been banned until further notice as Covid-19 infections run riot.
This as the province’s disaster centre addressing Covid-19 says “drastic action is required” — action which it is “not afraid to take”.
Local government, environmental affairs and development planning minister Anton Bredell said on Tuesday: “The Garden Route is seeing increases in Covid-19 infections. In addition, there is an expectation of large numbers of visitors over the next few weeks which further increases the risk. This requires drastic action — which we are not afraid to take.”
The provincial disaster management centre says it is “already enforcing existing disaster management regulations across the province with roadblocks, blitzes and unannounced visits to high-risk areas to ensure compliance”.
It is doing this in partnership with national police, municipal law enforcement and the departments of labour and health, among others.
To date, George has recorded 6,345 cases of Covid-19, while Knysna has seen 2,728, Mossel Bay 3,591, Bitou 1,425 and Oudtshoorn 1,908.
Some measures implemented so far include the closure of all sports facilities and public venues in the George and Kannaland municipalities, including town halls.
This comes a day after Western Cape premier Alan Winde warned that mini-lockdowns were possibly on the cards in response to the Covid-19 resurgence hitting the province.
On Monday, the premier said these were “blunt instruments”, but might be the only solutions should infections continue to rise. He said that the growth week-on-week in the Garden Route and Cape Town was “way too high” and that “everyone needs to play their part in slowing it down”.
“The Covid pandemic is not a sprint. It is a marathon. We are all in this marathon together and if we all work together, more of us will reach the end of this pandemic and certainly much sooner. If we don’t work together in the coming weeks, we may see the situation get increasingly worse,” said Bredell.
According to TimesLIVE’s sister publication, Business Day, SA’s two biggest private hospital groups are scrambling to put plans in place to cope with the sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the Garden Route, a prime holiday destination expected to see a flood of tourists during the festive season.
Shortly after the announcement of the clampdown, Winde said he had been informed that the national Covid-19 command council had met on Tuesday to discuss resurgences in various provinces.
He said the Western Cape government and local governments would “argue against” a blanket lockdown being imposed, and instead favoured an approach that was “targeted” and looked to “local interventions as a solution, based on scientific evidence”.
He added: “While we are considering our own interventions, the Western Cape government does intend to engage the president on our position on existing regulations during this meeting tomorrow [Wednesday]. This is because all regulations under the Disaster Management Act are promulgated by the national government and not by provincial governments.”