Devastating impact if our beaches stay closed

STATEMENT BY MAYOR HORATIO HENDRICKS

Kouga Municipality is finalising an urgent application to the Eastern Cape High Court, requesting that the decision to close all beaches in the province be overturned. 

While protecting our residents and visitors from COVID-19 remains a priority, we are of the view that a more nuanced approach, such as that adopted for the remainder of the country’s beaches, will enable a better balance between saving lives and saving livelihoods. 

In terms of the current amended regulations all beaches in the Eastern Cape and Garden Route District are closed until 3 January 2021. 

There are, however, uncertainties caused by the regulations, with some references being left wide open for adverse interpretation. These matters include the definition of “beach” and engaging in ocean and water-based sports such as surfing. 

It is the responsibility of SAPS to enforce these regulations. 

Our court application will be based on the importance of balancing saving lives and saving livelihoods. 
The COVID-19 curve in the Kouga region has not spiked significantly over the past three weeks, which is encouraging and supported by the high percentage of recoveries. 

On the other hand, the festive season is a last lifeline for many employers and employees, who have already suffered tremendous losses over the past nine months. If the beaches remain closed, the impact on businesses, job retention and creation will be devastating. 

We, therefore, believe the closure of all beaches was overly-harsh. There is a better way to save both lives and livelihoods. 

I have also written to the President to plea on behalf of Kouga’s people that the decision be overturned and a more nuanced approach be taken. 

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