Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced last week that South Africa is experiencing a second wave of infections, with more than 6,000 cases being recorded daily.
As a result of increasing infection rates, South African National Parks (SANParks) has revised the COVID-19 health and safety regulations it put in place for visitors to its parks and facilities.
Since several of SANParks’ properties and facilities are located within COVID-19 hotspots, it essential that strict health and safety protocols be implemented ahead of the expected December peak in tourist arrivals.
Guests and visitors who opt to cancel their reservations at SANParks located in COVID-19 hotspot areas, will not be penalised. SANParks will allow the voluntary cancellation of confirmed reservations since this helps to lower occupancy levels and thus mitigate the possible spread of the virus.
“SANParks welcomes the move by guests and would accept more voluntary cancellation as a means of helping to manage lower occupancy levels and curb the spread of COVID-19 — especially in those parks that are situated within the Eastern and Western Cape,” said SANParks acting head of communications Rey Thakhuli.
SANParks has decided not to take any further reservations for properties located within COVID-19 hotspot areas.
The properties affected include, the Addo Elephant National Park and Garden Route National Park (Tsitsikamma, Knysna and Wilderness) located in the Eastern and Western Cape respectively.
Cancellations, amendments and postponements of reservations for all other national parks will carry penalties as per SANParks’ reservations policy.
To ensure the safety of both SANParks staff and visitors to the parks, game rangers and park officials will be on-site to ensure compliance of these regulations in SANParks’ Cape parks.
Park officials will conduct temperature checks, ensure the adherence to social distancing and the obligatory wearing of masks.
Public facilities — including ablution blocks, kitchens and other areas used by guests and visitors — will be sanitised frequently.
Hand sanitisers will be readily available. Guests and visitors are asked to be responsible with regard to frequent sanitising. Parents are requested to monitor children at all times and to ensure that children comply with regulations.
Alcohol will be banned for day visitors to the SANParks located in the Eastern and Western Cape. This includes a ban on the transport, sale, and consumption of alcohol in the parks located in these provinces by day visitors.
SANParks will allow entry to only a specific number of visitors each day. The number of visitors allowed to enter the parks each day is subject to quotas.
In an attempt to limit visitor numbers and the gathering of people, some public areas, including picnic sites, day visit attractions and certain beaches which are managed by SANParks, will also be closed.
Game drives in SANParks that offer game viewing in open safari vehicles will be subject to 50% of the total capacity. This regulation will be in place at Addo Elephant National Park until 15 January.
SANParks requests all guests and visitors to adhere to the updated regulations for the safety of all persons entering the national parks over the festive season.
“We urge those travellers who elect to proceed with their travel to our parks in the Cape to assist us and practise the basic hygiene principles to mitigate the spread of the disease and adhere to the set rules of the park,” concluded Thakhuli.