Hornlee neighbourhood in Knysna. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)
Hornlee neighbourhood in Knysna. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)

How Garden Route municipalities are intensifying measures to curb Covid-19

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Dec 15, 2020

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Cape Town - Prior to the Garden Route becoming an official Covid-19 hot spot, municipalities such as George and Knysna have intensified measures to curb the spread of the disease in the area.

Knysna mayor Elrick van Aswegen has called on residents and visitors to behave as though they were at alert level 5.

“We must all start to restrict our movements. We must realise that the rate of infection in Knysna and the surrounding areas is higher than ever before. There are now more people who are seriously sick and more people who are dying because of it.

“We need to only go shopping when necessary. We need to seriously limit our social interactions. In fact, to be safe, we need to act as though we were still on lockdown alert level 5 and not taking the liberties of alert level 1 for granted,” said Van Aswegen.

On Monday evening, the Garden Route and Sarah Baartman District Municipality joined the Nelson Mandela Bay as Covid-19 hotspots, with additional restrictions including the sale of alcohol.

The beaches and public parks of the Western Cape, with the exception of the Garden Route, will remain open to the public over the festive season.

George acting municipal manager Steven Erasmus confirmed the main and other external municipal buildings were closed until further notice, due to continued Covid-19 safety measures.

Erasmus said: “This measure has been considered and the decision not taken lightly following the continued spike in infection rate in George and amongst our municipal staff. We have a responsibility to ensure not only the safety of the officials working for the municipality but also the public.”

George Municipality has also closed all municipal sport fields, community halls, and public swimming pools to the public for the festive season.

“The municipality cancelled the annual Christmas lights festival and together with the Department of Health and the province will have Covid-19 awareness signage up at all of our beaches and campsites.” said Erasmus.

In the latest alert from the Western Cape Disaster Management Centre Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said: “Concerns are high that holidaymakers and locals may ignore Covid-19 regulations.

Highlighting alcohol use as a major concern for the weeks ahead, Bredell said: “We must urge compliance. The rules are there for a reason. The facts are also quite clear: infections are on the increase and our hospitals are filling up. This is not in dispute. If we want to have a pleasant and healthy festive season, we need to all be more responsible.

“Our emergency rooms and ICUs don’t have room for alcohol-related trauma cases and our medical staff are under enormous pressure already. We want to ask that people drink responsibly and keep an eye on the greater events unfolding at present. If you are irresponsible, you are placing in danger the lives of countless numbers of people who may be infected or not be able to get treatment.”

Cape Argus

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