The clock is ticking for the government as the Democratic Alliance (DA) has extended its deadline for the Presidency to give reasons justifying the controversial decision to close beaches along the Western Cape’s Garden Route and in the Eastern Cape.
The DA had initially sought a response from government by Wednesday, 16 December 2020 at 17:00, however the Presidency wrote back, seeking more time. The opposition has threatened to take the matter to court, should it not be satisfied with the reasoning behind the move.
“The fact that national government has requested additional time to prepare a response to our letter requesting reasons for the decision to close the Garden Route’s beaches only demonstrates that there was none to begin with. It would seem that any reasons now provided would be ex post facto manufactured,” said DA leader John Steenhuisen.
“Should it be evident that the decision to close the Garden Route’s beaches be without rational reasons and therefore unlawful, as we believe it to be, we will file papers”
DA leader John Steenhuisen
Under the recent lockdown restrictions, beaches in the Eastern Cape and Garden Route district will be closed until 3 January 2021.
While in KwaZulu-Natal, beaches will be closed on 25, 26 and 31 December as well as 1, 2 and 3 January 2021, as they are traditionally known as busier days.
Western Cape beachgoers are however free to explore the seaside – but only between 09:00 and 18:00.
The DA has long maintained that beach-going in the Western Cape does not present a significant threat of COVID-19 infection. The opposition party said the provincial government, under Premier Alan Winde, had submitted various hotspot containment plans which indicate that the province is adequately capacitated to manage the seasonal influx of tourists.
The party has further accused government of not being fair or consistent in its implementation of the regulations, making reference to beach closures in KZN, compared to those along the Garden Route district.
“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,” Steenhuisen said.