Home South African Judgment on opening of beaches in Covid hot spots set for Wednesday

Judgment on opening of beaches in Covid hot spots set for Wednesday

128
SHARE

Government declared a blanket ban on the opening of beaches in Covid-19 hot-spot areas along the Garden Route and in the Eastern Cape.

An eerily deserted Central Beach in Plettenberg Bay in the middle of what is usually one of its busiest times of the year. Picture: David Ritchie / African News Agency (ANA)

THE GAUTENG High Court, Pretoria, will deliver its judgment on Wednesday in three separate applications in which it has been asked that certain beaches in the Eastern Cape and those along the Garden Route be opened to the public during this time.

Government declared a blanket ban on the opening of beaches in Covid-19 hot-spot areas along the Garden Route and in the Eastern Cape.

The ban is to remain in place until January 3.

However, the Great Brak Business Forum, along the Garden Route, the Kouga Municipality, which runs Jeffreys Bay, and the Buffalo Bay Homeowners Association are challenging the blanket ban on people visiting these beaches.

They want the court to overturn this decision as being irrational and unfair in light of Cape Towns’ beaches which are open during the day.

It was argued that while government needed to safeguard the people, there must be a balance. Another argument was that businesses along these routes, which rely on the peak holiday season for an income, stand to shut down if they cannot generate an income during this peak season.

Judge Hans Fabricius commented that while he has empathy with businesses losing income, the safety of the people is also a consideration.

It was meanwhile suggested by some of the applicants that the number of beachgoers at popular beaches could be restricted and that the SAPS can ensure that people keep a social distance.

The first application heard was that of the Kouga Municipality, which concerns a 70km stretch of beach along Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape.

Judge Fabricius questioned what would happen if he ruled in favour of the beaches along Jeffreys Bay being opened, while the others in the area where municipalities did not turn to court remained closed.

“Logic prescribes that everyone would flood there,” the judge said. He pointed out that the number of Covid-19 infections in the Eastern Cape were soaring. The judge commented that government was trying to limit mass gathering on the beaches, where it was difficult to control the numbers.

Advocate Gerhard Celliers, representing Kouga, said if the beaches were closed, people would flock to other areas such as malls. He said he was at the George Mall this week, where it was flooded with people.

Judge Fabricious also commented that while the applicants said that government should have imposed less restrictive measures other than a total ban on some of these beaches, they never proposed what these restrictive measures should be.

“We are dealing with the safety of the public. If I look at the statistics, its getting worse by the day. This is an international health crisis,” the judge commented.

He, meanwhile, asked for a copy of the Western Cape High Court’s order (expected to be delivered on Tuesday afternoon) in the DA matter, in which the party also asked that the ban on the beaches be lifted.