Statement by Executive Mayor, Horatio Hendricks:
Kouga Municipality is not in agreement with the national directive that all beaches and parks in the Eastern Cape and Garden Route District will be closed from 16 December to 3 January.
We are of the view that the closure of beaches and parks on specified dates only, as is the case for the remainder of South Africa, would have enabled a better balance between saving lives and saving livelihoods.
Unfortunately, the final decision was not ours to take and we now have to deal with the hand we’ve been dealt.
While Kouga still has much to offer visitors, the beach is the main attraction over the summer season. The impact of the 19-day beach closure will be devastating on our local businesses, job retention and creation.
In addition, there is concern that the closure of beaches and parks will simply lead to people congregating at other venues, including private residences, where the risk of infection is even higher.
We have raised our concerns with the Premier. Early indications are that the chances of the national decision being reversed are slim and that there is little likelihood of local municipalities and law enforcement agencies, as well as affected businesses, receiving support from a provincial or national level.
We are further awaiting clarity as to whether the closures affect all beach-related activities, as the Gazette only alludes to fishing for which an exemption will be made for those in possession of a permit.
We are also awaiting clarity as to whether the closure affects all bodies of water such as rivers and lagoons or only the sea.
In the meantime, the municipality will be meeting with other law enforcement agencies today to discuss the enforcement of the stricter regulations, as announced by the President last night.
Regardless of whether we are in agreement with the closure of beaches or not, the COVID-19 pandemic is a reality and safeguarding our communities remains the priority.
We will continue to do all in our power to curb the spread of the coronavirus and to keep our residents and visitors safe.