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Court to hear DA bid to reopen Garden Route beaches

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The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) legal challenge against government’s decision to close beaches along Garden Route will be heard in the High Court in Western Cape on Monday, 20 December 2020.

The DA filed papers after President Cyril Ramaphosa and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma failed to give reasons, justifying the decision on Thursday, 18 December 2020.

When he addressed the nation, Ramaphosa had said the beach closures were necessary this festive season to avoid a further rise in COVID-19 infections. The restrictions are in response to the second wave of cases.

Should the DA’s application be successful, the ruling would fundamentally change the lockdown restrictions on beaches. Under the current regulations, beaches along the Garden Route in the Western Cape and across the Eastern Cape, have been closed until the beginning of January 2021.

While beaches in KwaZulu-Natal have been allowed to operate, only on certain days. Other beaches in the Western Cape remain open but only between 09:00 and 18:00.

DA: Beach closures ‘not in line with scientific evidence’

The DA has questioned the decision, saying it contradicts what medical experts have advised and that the Garden Route’s economy would take a merciless battering.

“The DA and our governments across the Western Cape’s coastal municipalities have fought vehemently against any closure of beaches over the festive season, as such a regulation is not in line with the scientific advice available from medical experts and is impossible to enforce,” said DA leader John Steenhuisen.

“This regulation is also proving be the final nail in the coffin for the Garden Route’s coastal economies which are nearing total collapse”

Steenhuisen added that businesses in the hospitality industry along the Garden Route are already reporting devastating and life-threatening losses to the value of hundreds of millions of rands.

“This is precisely why we are urgently approaching the courts to expedite the overturning of this decision as the livelihoods of thousands currently hang in the balance,” Steenhuisen further said.

“In the South African context, poverty can be far deadlier than the coronavirus, and in this instance, national government is risking the livelihoods of thousands of South Africans unnecessarily. We cannot and will not allow this to happen”

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