The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Thursday launched an urgent court bid challenging a government decision to close Garden Route Beaches.
Beaches in the region have been closed until 3 January 2021, by order of the National Coronavirus Command Council.
DA leaders initially set a 5 pm deadline on Wednesday for President Cyril Ramaphosa and Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to provide reasons for the move. It then asked for an extension. The Presidency noted the urgent application and said the matter would be dealt with through legal procedures.
The party extended the deadline to 1oam on Thursday but said both Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma failed to respond. Ramaphosa made the announcement to close beaches on Monday after rising COVID-19 infections across the country, with the Garden Route added to the list of hotspots. These include Nelson Mandela Bay and the Sarah Baartman District.
The Western Cape province saw a resurgence of COVID-19 infections in recent weeks, with Cape Town and the Garden Route reporting rising infection rates.
“The fact that national government has requested additional time to prepare a response to our letter requesting reasons for the decision to close the Garden Route’s beaches, only demonstrates that there were none to begin with. It would seem that any reasons now provided would be ex post facto manufactured,” said DA leader John Steenhuisen in a statement.
He added: “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.”
Steenhuisen stressed that the decision by the government would have a severe impact on the region’s economy.
“This regulation is also proving to be the final nail in the coffin for the Garden Route’s coastal economies which are nearing total collapse,” he said.
“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 rand. 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.”
The party expects the case to be heard in the Western Cape High on Monday.
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