Vacant places on Long Street. Nightclubs in the Cape Town CBD is closing due to the lockdown regulations. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Vacant places on Long Street. Nightclubs in the Cape Town CBD is closing due to the lockdown regulations. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape Town’s popular CBD nightlife now a ghost town

By Marvin Charles Time of article published Oct 13, 2020

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Cape Town – Cape Town’s popular nightlife in the CBD, with streets normally buzzing with tourists and locals visiting pubs, clubs and restaurants, is resembling a ghost town as more businesses buckle because of a lack of patrons due to the lockdown.

Long Street Association chairperson and owner of popular drinking hole, Beerhouse, Randolf Jorberg said: “In the city the night is dead. At Beerhouse we have a healthy Saturday daytime visit that’s our strongest day. It’s about trying to convince customers that it’s safe to visit again and reactivating people.”

Jorberg said it has presented a challenge for businesses across the city as they tried to keep their doors open.

“We have seen many places close for good and depending on how long this is, we could see more closures. Even reopening under new terms it won’t be sustainable for businesses,” he said.

Cape Chamber of Commerce president Janine Myburgh said: “It is concerning because we can assume it’s the financial situation many establishments find themselves in and not being able to make their turnover. Many businesses are still not back.”

Cape Town is heavily reliant on international visitors. and tourism lobby groups are not satisfied with the list of high-risk countries announced a week ago.

According to the Tourism Business Council of SA (TBCSA), the high-risk list could have a devastating impact on tourism revenue.

TBCSA chief executive Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa said: “There is no reason for the high-risk or medium-risk approach; everyone should just get tested. We haven’t reopened the international borders and we haven’t recovered.”

Tshivhengwa said the government’s approach was not working to the industry’s advantage.

South Africa moved to level 1 of the lockdown early last month.

The lockdown has been particularly hard on the tourism industry. Tourism in the country contributes an estimated 8.6% to GDP and supports about 1.5million people.

The National Coronavirus Command Council announced a risk categorisation model for different international travellers, according to a scale of high, medium and low risk.

Restaurant Association of SA chairperson Wendy Alberts said: “It’s shocking that restaurants are so dead and it’s shocking to hear that some are still struggling.”

According to the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) annual report, the CBD was 1.6km² and at the end of last year it housed just over 3 300 businesses.

Mayco member for economic opportunities and asset management James Vos said: “The first intervention the City has initiated is to provide restaurants with the option to rent pavements in front of their establishments for outdoor seating, at a reduced rate for the next six months. This is to offer establishments the opportunity to welcome more patrons as the increased space will allow for social distancing.

“This initiative is the first of a number aimed at assisting the revitalisation of the CBD.”

Cape Argus

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