- Pointing out how to get a fishing licence and so access any beach is not helpful, says government's top spokesperson in response to a "frivolous" Business Insider South Africa article.
- "The decision to close beaches was not taken lightly, and was made only after extensive consultations," says communications head Phumla Williams.
- She is also concerned about people gathering in groups to swim in rivers.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
The South Africa government is concerned that some people do not fully appreciate the seriousness of the Covid-19 situation, says government's top spokesperson.
One example, says Phumla Williams, the director general of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), is a "frivolous" piece by Business Insider South Africa on how to use an exemption on beach bans to go fishing.
It may seem harmless, "but it invites the public to bypass restrictions by using the Marine Living Resources Act", and is not helpful, she says of the piece.
"Every time someone disregards the regulations, they put themselves and others at risk, and potentially cause the virus to spread."
(Read the full statement here.)
Beaches are closed – to everyone except those who fish with the proper licence – in the Eastern Cape and along the Garden Route until early January, and will be closed in KwaZulu-Natal during the Christmas and New Year holidays, when they typically draw the biggest crowds.
"Government is aware that there has been contestation regarding the rationale to close beaches," says Williams. "The decision to close beaches was not taken lightly, and was made only after extensive consultations. Our aim is to reduce the risk of large-scale transmission, while limiting the negative impact on businesses in coastal areas.
"Lock down restrictions are meant to be temporary and relaxing them even further depends on our collective effort to manage the spread. To succeed in this, we must continue to adhere to restrictions and follow public health guidelines."
Wiliams also points to people "gathering in large numbers to swim in rivers" – and taverns and restaurants "operating clandestinely behinds close doors" – as examples of South Africans putting themselves and others at risk.
"Our actions over the next few weeks will be vital in slowing down a massive surge in new infections," she says.
"Lock down restrictions are meant to be temporary and relaxing them even further depends on our collective effort to manage the spread."