Home South African Tourism and leisure industry in the country buckles under State of Disaster

Tourism and leisure industry in the country buckles under State of Disaster

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The tourism and leisure industry has been left in the lurch after the government decided to not bring to an end the lockdown regulations as expected, despite looming litigation.

The tourism and leisure industry has been left in the lurch after the government decided to not bring to an end the lockdown regulations as expected, despite looming litigation. Photograph: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

THE tourism and leisure industry has been left in the lurch after the government decided to not bring to an end the lockdown regulations as expected, despite looming litigation.

Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, on Tuesday announced the extension of the National State of Disaster for another month to April 15.

Tuesday marked two years since the National State of Disaster was first declared in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dlamini-Zuma said the regulations were extended due to “the need to continue augmenting existing legislation and contingency arrangements undertaken by organs of the state to address the impact of the disaster”.

This means that tourist establishments and sports events will still have to adhere to restrictions regulating the capacity number of people attending leisure and sports events.

The tourism and hospitality industry has also been calling for the removal of the stringent PCR test requirement for fully vaccinated travellers in a bid to boost the sector.

Western Cape Premier Winde condemned the extension of the National State of Disaster, saying it was “unacceptable” and had occurred without a President’s Co-ordinating Council (PCC) meeting.

The Western Cape is one of the domestic travel destinations in South Africa preferred by foreign tourists, receiving more than 2.6 million international visitors a year.

Winde said the bottom line was that the province could not be in a state of disaster indefinitely.

“The provincial budget, which we tabled yesterday, makes clear that we remain fully prepared to respond to further Covid-19 waves,” he said.

“We no longer need a disaster act declaration to manage the pandemic, and we instead need to normalise our response through existing health legislation.

“We cannot keep on kicking this important issue down the line, month after month. We need an answer now.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa last month indicated that the February extension of the State of Disaster would be the last.

But on Saturday, Ramaphosa said the government was still considering whether to extend the state of disaster this week and what regulations it will introduce to replace it.

“It will not be heavy duty, it will be light duty so that we are able to manage this pandemic going forward,” he said.

“People should not stress too much about this, we are finding the best way possible of bringing a logical conclusion to the (end) of the state of disaster,” he said.

Lobby group DearSA on Tuesday said its legal team was preparing for the legal battle to end the National State of Disaster.

DearSA’s chairman Rob Hutchinson said the circumstances that gave rise to the State of Disaster no longer exist and the country has adequate measures to deal with Covid-19.

“We need to return to a state of democracy where decisions are made through a proper democratic process, with parliamentary oversight, and not by a single minister or unconstitutional National Coronavirus Command Council,” Hutchinson said.

“There is no emergency as the pandemic no longer exists. Should a flare-up occur, the minister can re-enact the Disaster Management Act, with Parliamentary oversight with proper public consultation.”

Gerhard Papenfus, the chief executive of the National Employers’ Association of South Africa, said for average South Africans, those who do not suffer from irrational fear, nor benefit from the current Covid-narrative, the virus is at the bottom of the list of things to be concerned about.

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