SANParks introduces quota system in Garden Route to curb spread of coronavirus

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SANParks has introduced a quota system in some national parks along the Garden Route to restrict the number of visitors. The region is one of three national hotspots for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Garden Route National Park, covering the Tsitsikamma, Knysna, and Wilderness sections, is expecting an influx of visitors from around the country.

With the blanket closure of beaches along the Garden Route, the national parks are still within limits.

SANParks introduced stricter measures to curb infections for all three sections, effective from Wednesday.

Popular areas like Island Lake, Tarentaal, and the Half-collard Kingfisher Trail will also have a quota system, restricting the number of people entering the facilities.

“The parks are open to the tourists and the people are allowed into our parks. The only issue is that we are applying a strict quota system. So, we are encouraging our tourists to ensure that they do regular checks on our social media pages to see if they are still within the quota system or over the limit because we are going to apply the quota system and we are also going to ensure no mask, no entry,” says General Manager for the Garden Route National Park, Vuyiswa Thabethe.

The Knysna estuary remains open for water-based commercial tourism activities. All activities here also come with a capacity system.

Prior to the beach closures, a decision was made to close the wildly popular Wilderness Lagoon area to swimmers and bathers.

Local resident, Rosa Thoabala, is unhappy with the decision.

“The only time that I get to spend time with my kids is during the December holidays and my kids are so excited when they come over. We don’t have beaches in the Free State. So, my kids are excited when they come to visit mummy because they know we spend time at the beach and all of those things. So, now this year my kids won’t be able to come over this side and spend time with mummy.”

Wilderness Section Park Manager, Sandra Taljaard, has encouraged visitors to engage in other activities that they have to offer.

“There are also other activities like walking our trails. A half collared trail is open. There’s a quota, so at a certain stage, people will have to wait for others to come out. In Goudsveld, which is also in the wilderness area, we have wonderful picnic areas like Krisja- se- Nek, Daleen Mathees Memorial, Jubilee Creek picnic area, and those are all open with a quota.”

With limited action in the water, recreational fishing and bait collecting in the national parks will also go ahead. Estuary users will also have to comply with the required vessel capacity.