DA files papers to challenge government’s decision to close Garden Route beaches

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The Democratic Alliance (DA) has filed papers in the High Court in Cape Town, challenging the government’s decision to close the beaches on the Western Cape’s Garden Route.

DA leader John Steenhuisen says they hope the matter will be heard on an urgent basis on Monday afternoon.

The DA lodged the application after government failed to respond to its concerns.

It gave President Cyril Ramaphosa until 10 o’clock this morning to respond.

“Businesses in the hospitality industry along the Garden Route are already reporting devastating and life-threatening losses to the value of hundreds of millions of rands. This is precisely why we are urgently approaching the courts to expedite the overturning of this decision as the livelihoods of thousands currently hang in the balance. In the South African context, poverty can be far deadlier than the coronavirus, and in this instance, the national government is risking the livelihoods of thousands of South Africans unnecessarily. We cannot and will not allow this to happen,” says Steenhuisen.

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the Garden Route and Sarah Baartman districts coronavirus hotspots during his address on Monday.

Here are some of the measures the President announced on Monday:

  • The Garden Route & Sarah Bartmaan district municipalities join Nelson Mandela Bay as COVID-19 hotspots
  • All drivers of public transport must ensure passengers wear masks
  • All gatherings (including religious gatherings) must not exceed a capacity of 100 people indoors and 250 outdoors
  • Beaches & public parks:
  • Eastern Cape: All closed
  • Western Cape: Only Garden Route
  • KwaZulu-Natal: all closed on 16, 25 and 26 December as well as 1, 2 and 3 January
  • No parties or festivals at beaches, no New Year’s Eve parties
  • Curfew hours extended from 11pm to 4am
  • Non-essential establishments including restaurants & bars must close at 10pm
  • Sale of Alcohol restricted to 10am to 6pm, Monday to Thursday only
  • Alcohol consumption at all beaches & parks strictly prohibited

The President added that all of the above will be reviewed in early January 2021 under the National State of Disaster.

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation: 

This is after Nelson Mandela Bay was also declared a hotspot with additional restrictions including the closure of beaches.

Yesterday, beaches in the hotspots were closed.

Police were deployed to ensure compliance: 

In a statement released on Tuesday, the DA said the closure of the beaches in Garden Route is the final nail in the coffin for coastal economies.

“It was very clear from the start that the Western Cape did not want beach closures, nor did the province need them. The government has blatantly ignored these requests and overlooked the competency of the Western Cape government at the peril of the lives and livelihoods of the province’s coastal communities.”

According to the DA, government has not been fair and consistent in its imposition of this regulation across the country.

“Infection rates between the Garden Route and KwaZulu-Natal, for example, are not dissimilar. Yet while beach closures in KwaZulu-Natal are limited to but a few days, the Garden Route has had a blanket restriction imposed unjustly for the entire festive season. There is no justifiable reason for beach closures anywhere in the Western Cape, and national government’s decision to close the Garden Route’s beaches over the festive season is thus dangerously irrational.”