EDITORIAL NOTE: This story has been amended to better reflect Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato’s comments. We earlier erroneously stated that Plato said “open spaces will make it easier for people to follow protocols such as social distancing, as opposed to visit places of worship”. 

Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato says his office has written to Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma requesting the opening of beaches, public parks, and reserves during Level 3 of the lockdown.

Plato says these open spaces allow people to follow protocols such as social distance.

Plato says many residents have written to his office requesting the opening of these facilities.

“These spaces are wide open spaces so by their nature they encourage social distancing. We have seen many people having to congregate in smaller spaces, during the exercise hours, and I believe by opening these spaces will allow for greater social distancing. It’s not our call to make, but the national minister’s, Minister Dlamini Zuma, which is why I have raised the public request with the national minister.”

COVID-19 infection figures released on Friday evening show that the Western Cape has the highest number of infections in the country with over half the national total at 18 906. It also accounts for more than half of the national death toll with 437 deaths.

Efforts intensified to reduce the spread of COVID-19 

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize says he will lead a delegation to the Western Cape to look at intensifying efforts to stem the rapid spread of coronavirus infections in the province.

The country moves to Level 3 of the nationwide lockdown on Monday, which will see an increase in economic activity with more workers going back to their jobs.

Schools are also set to reopen with Grade 7 and 12 learners resuming classes.

Lockdown Level 3 regulations: 

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Addressing a virtual briefing from Pietermaritzburg on Friday night, Mkhize said there will be a differentiated approach adopted for high-risk areas with a large number of coronavirus infections.

Mkhize says the focus will be on reducing the backlog of tests in the Western Cape as well as increasing community participation in the fight against the coronavirus.

“What we need to do is to go into the Western Cape, eliminate the backlog as far as possible so that we keep them ahead of the curve. The other provinces there’s another strategy we are going to be using to make sure that they don’t get left behind. With an aggressive approach you can still temper the rate of growth in the Western Cape. The tests can actually help us to reduce the rate of spread, but it is limited unless the community actually does their part.”

In the video below, Minister Zweli Mkhize briefs media on COVID-19 lockdown level 3: