Gordon’s Bay Beach. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)
Gordon’s Bay Beach. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

Full Cape beaches not seen as a superspreader but officials struggle enforcing Covid-19 safety rules

By Nomalanga Tshuma Time of article published Jan 10, 2022

Share this article:

Cape Town - Western Cape health and safety authorities say they do not regard the thousand of people who flocked to beaches and public swimming pools on the weekend as potential Covid-19 superspreader.

Beaches and public swimming pools were packed on Saturday as people sought relief from the heat with temperatures in excess of 30ºC.

Western Cape Health spokesperson Mark van der Heever said while the department was not responsible for managing the situation, it had no reason for concern.

“We have not received any indication from our JOC (Joint Operations Centre) that there were any non-compliance or superspreader events. The team on the ground was from the local government. However, we also did not register an increase in hospitalisations this weekend,” he said.

Safety and Security Mayco member JP Smith said: “I believe we had a record number of people visit the beaches this weekend due to the favourable weather. However, this meant more work for us as we were on the ground monitoring the situation. With the country being on lockdown level 1 and the adjusted curfew, more people were definitely out in these public places.

“Due to these high volumes, attempting to enforce Covid-19 safety regulations was duly impossible. To try to enforce compliance in such spaces is difficult because as soon as you try to write up a ticket for one person ‘say for not wearing a mask’, other people would take an issue with it, and the situation could quickly turn into discord,” Smith said.

Despite a misty sky over Cape Town, families came out in their numbers on Sunday. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Despite a misty sky over Cape Town, families came out in their numbers on Sunday. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Lifeguard Deverol Peters dives from the diving board at the Sea Point swimming pool. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

As a result people flocking to beaches such as Camps Bay, Muizenberg, Strandfontein, Gordon’s Bay, Milnerton and Simon’s Town, the City’s Safety and Security portfolio said it had attended to several incidents, including people causing traffic jams and flouting the alcohol by-law.

Safety and Security Portfolio Committee chairperson Mzwakhe Nqvashe said: “This weekend is the last before most people go back to work so the numbers on the beaches were high.

“We were stretched to the limit as Law Enforcement as we tried to ensure the safety of residents. Our biggest concerns were that beachgoers were using non-bathing areas and bringing alcohol on to the beaches, which is prohibited.

“I must emphasise that bringing alcohol or coming to the beach having consumed alcohol is prohibited as it is often associated with anti-social behavioural elements that pose a threat to the safety of others,” Nqavashe said.

The NSRI responded to at least three drownings at beaches across Cape Town. Spokesperson Craig Lambinon said: “On Saturday, the NSRI attended to three drowning incidents at Monwabisi Main Beach, Glencairn Beach and Strand.

“Rescue officials recovered the bodies of a 37-year-old male from Mfuleni at Monwabisi beach, a 60-year-old resident, from a swimming pool at an apartment complex in Strand and a 46-year-old man from Ocean View in Simon’s Town.”

In Milnerton, some beachgoers took to swimming in part of the lagoon believed to be unsafe for swimming.

Local councillor Fabian Ah-Sing said: “I am aware that there were people who took to swimming in part of the lagoon not suitable for swimming. There are signs all over that area advising people not to. However, some decided to disregard that.

“That body of water is not suitable sometimes because it becomes polluted if there is a sewage spill. I have contacted the Mayco member for Safety and Security and asked for patrols in the area to prevent people from going in that water.”.

Beachgoer Grace Kabwe said: “This weekend it was incredibly hot, so we decided to go to the beach. We went to Camps Bay, and it was so full but not in a way that you don’t have space to enjoy or relax.”

One of Cape Towns’s popular beaches, Boulders Beach near Simon’s Town was filled in the morning.

SANParks spokesperson Lauren Howard-Clayton said: “On hot days like the past few days, it is normal for the Boulders Penguin Colony beach section to reach capacity early in the morning.

“The area is limited depending on the tide, therefore numbers continuously differ depending on the tide and time of day. We are thankful to see the great support coming in from our local and international tourists.”

[email protected]

Share this article: