Winde writes to Mkhize to relax beach and booze ban in the Western Cape
Cape Town – Premier Alan Winde has written to Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize urging him to relax restrictions - including swimming at the beach and the ban on the sale of alcohol, as cases in the Western Cape are in decline.
The province has passed the peak of the second wave of Covid-19 infections, said Winde, and the province is again shifting its focus to the Western Cape economy.
“Throughout this devastating pandemic, the Western Cape government has focused on getting the balance right: trying to save both lives and livelihoods.
“We have done everything we can in the most difficult of circumstances to provide a world-class health response that delivers life-saving health care to every person who needs it when they need it,” Winde said
“During this time, we have also not been afraid to fight for jobs, because having a job is not just a ‘nice-to-have’. For many people in the Western Cape it is the difference between putting food on the table and starving.”
Winde said the province has essentially been responding to two pandemics – one caused by the Covid-19 virus, and the other by growing poverty, unemployment and hunger.
“Our position remains that both need to be fought with passion and courage, because both cost lives – now and in the future.
“When President Cyril Ramaphosa announced additional restrictions for the Western Cape and South Africa last month, taking us to an adjusted alert level 3, I supported the announcement as a necessary last resort.”
He added that at the time, the Western Cape was experiencing a significant surge of new infections and hospitalisations, caused by the new highly transmissible variant of Covid-19.
“To put it simply, because more people were being infected with Covid-19 at a faster rate, more people were arriving at our health-care facilities over a shorter period of time. This surge put an enormous burden on our health-care workers at a time when health-care worker infections were on the increase at a faster rate.”
With the surge taking place during the festive period when more people come together to socialise with family and friends, it created a perfect storm, as there were more people arriving at trauma units as a result of alcohol-related incidents.
“We needed to get the balance right again by helping our health-care system. In supporting some of these restrictions, we were clear that they needed to be reviewed after 14 days, and every seven days thereafter, based on evidence and data,” Winde said.
“I have therefore written to the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, to request the following changes to restrictions in the Western Cape, as a matter of urgency,” Winde said.
He is calling for:
- The ban on beaches and other public spaces to be lifted in the Western Cape as open spaces with good ventilation “are safer and they do not provide a high risk”. He said the festive season is over, and people are back at work.
- The curfew be changed to 11pm to 4am, as the current curfew makes it difficult for restaurants to provide a dinner service. Winde said this sector is buckling as a result.
- A closing time of 10pm for establishments, that will allow for staff to get home before curfew begins.
- Alcohol sales be permitted off-site from Monday to Thursday, and not permitted on the weekend.
- Alcohol sales be permitted at wine farms on the weekend, “as this is the time when most visitors come to wine farms”. Winde said such sales are critical for the survival of wine tourism in the province.
- On-site alcohol consumption be allowed.
Winde added: “As is clear from above, we are not requesting a complete lifting of all restrictions, as it is important to get the balance right as we continue to exit our peak.
“In particular, the number of people being permitted to gather should not be relaxed at this point, as there is clear evidence that the greater the number of people gathering in an enclosed space, the greater the risk of infection.
“We will continue to monitor our data on a weekly basis and should there be evidence to support additional restrictions being relaxed, we will do so without hesitation.”