National Parks to remain closed during level 4 lockdown

CAPE TOWN – All national parks will remain closed during the coronavirus (Covid-19) level four lockdown period, the South African National Parks (SANParks) announced.

“South African National Parks (SANParks) understand that the public miss their national parks. Unfortunately, national parks remain closed despite the downgrading of lockdown restrictions to level four.

“Access by all members of the public to the national parks therefore continues to be prohibited, notwithstanding the terms of regulation 24 of the Disaster Management Act which allows for walking, running, or cycling between the morning hours of 6am to 9am within a 5km radius of your place of residence,” SANParks said in a statement.

Earlier on Saturday, the Democratic Alliance called for a tourism recovery plan to start with opening the hospitality industry within the parameters of meeting hygiene and social distancing protocols to reduce further job losses and the closure of additional hospitality establishments.

The statement made this week by Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, that the domestic tourism season “will likely only start in December” and that no international tourism would occur this year, was most concerning, DA shadow minister of tourism Manny De Freitas said in a statement.

“Her statement implies that any tourism recovery plan that government may implement will not apply a phased or staggered approach. Unless certain sub-sectors of the travel and tourism sector start opening up soon, there will be nothing left to start in December,” he said.

It was estimated that a million jobs within the sector had already been lost thanks to government doing nothing to jump-start it or create the conditions for the sector to do so. The minister spoke of the tourism relief fund as if it was the be-all and end-all for recovering the sector, when it was only one aspect.

“A recovery plan should start with the opening of the hospitality industry within the parameters of meeting hygiene and social distancing protocols. Doing this would reduce further job losses and the termination of additional hospitality establishments,” he said.

On Friday, Hong Kong was the first region in the world to announce a tourism recovery plan. Considering that the region was relatively close to the source of the coronavirus (Covid-19) on mainland China, there should be no excuse for government not to consider opening up tourism using a step-by-step phased approach. Not doing this would have dire consequences for the sector, the economy, and jobs.

The DA would question the minister about a tourism recovery plan at Parliament’s tourism portfolio committee meeting next week, De Freitas said.

 

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