Eastern Cape and Garden Route beaches will be closed for about three weeks this festive season starting from Wednesday.
This was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night.
Ramaphosa said the decision was taken after Nelson Mandela Bay was declared a Covid-19 hotspot earlier this month.
On Monday night, he announced that two more areas had been declared hotspots — Sarah Baartman district and the Garden Route.
“One of the greatest challenges we need to confront are the huge crowds that flock to beaches and recreational parks on public holidays over the festive season,” he said.
Ramaphosa said they had undertaken extensive consultations to find an approach that reduced the risk of large-scale transmission while limiting the negative impact on business in coastal areas.
“We have therefore agreed to adopt a differentiated approach, which takes into account the different circumstances in different areas of the country,” he said.
“In the areas with the highest rate of infection, beaches and public parks will be closed for the duration of the festive season from the 16th of December to the 3rd of January.
“This will apply to all of the Eastern Cape, as well as to the Garden Route district in the Western Cape.”
In KwaZulu-Natal, beaches and public parks will be closed on what are traditionally the busiest days of the festive season — December 16, 25, 26 and 31 and January 1 to 3.
Ramaphosa said beaches and public parks in the Northern Cape and the Western Cape — with the exception of the Garden Route — would remain open to the public over the festive season, between 9am and 6pm.
Festivals, live music, and live performances at beaches will be prohibited.
“The situation will be monitored daily by local authorities to ensure compliance with the regulations on gatherings and the prohibition of alcohol,” he said.
“In instances where there are large crowds or poor compliance with safety measures, specific beaches and recreational parks will be closed.”
Ramaphosa’s announcement follows a plea from Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane to close all beaches in the province, following a meeting with executive mayors and mayors of coastal municipalities and cities in the province.
“It was unanimously agreed that all beaches and recreational parks and open spaces in the Eastern Cape should be closed and declared out of bounds for the upcoming festive season,” he said.
“This is done to minimise the mobility of people from high areas to low-risk areas and vice versa as well as to avoid large crowds gathering in those recreational spaces.”