Two Oceans Aquarium.
Penguins still have the place to themselves. (Photo Ayrton King/Two Oceans Aquarium.)

  • Guided safari tours will be allowed again in upcoming regulations, SA's tourism minister announced on Thursday.
  • Overnight stays for leisure have also been okayed, as long as you don't cross a provincial boundary.
  • But a tourism body says it still doesn't know what kind of attractions will be allowed to open.
  • Definitely not on the list, as of this week: zoos and aquariums. They are explicitly banned from opening, and you can't picnic in a botanical garden either.
  • Go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za for more stories.

New regulations, already approved by cabinet and due to be in force as soon as they are gazetted, will unlock whole areas of leisure, tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane announced on Thursday.

"The impact of the pandemic has been devastating for the sector," said Kubayi-Ngubane in prepared remarks. "Many businesses are at risk and many jobs have already been lost. However, we are doing everything we can to ensure that the impact is minimised."

Crossing a provincial boundary for purposes of fun will remain banned, she said. But overnight leisure stays within provincial boundaries will be allowed, with any two people – or any nuclear family of parents and children – allowed to share a room.

See also | New lockdown rules: Cabinet approves changes to curfew, leisure travel

Self-drive excursions in game parks became legal again in early June. The upcoming rule change will open up another way to see animals, Kubayi-Ngubane promised.

"Tour operators, in the new regulations, will be allowed to conduct guided tours in open safari vehicles subject to directions" on social distancing and ventilation.

But you won't be able to walk in a zoo to see animals, or visit the aquarium. Those fall under the environment department rather than under tourism, and this week they were explicitly banned from opening.

"Zoos, aquaria, animal rehabilitation facilities and sanctuaries that are normally open to the public, remain closed to the public," read new lockdown rules published on Wednesday by forestry, fisheries, and environmental affairs minister Barbara Creecy.

See also | Smile and wave, boys! Penguins take over Cape Town aquarium

Botanical gardens also fall under Creecy's purview rather than Kubayi-Ngubane's department. Those gardens, Creecy decreed on Wednesday, may open, but "for exercise purposes only", so no picnics.

Cape Town Tourism immediately welcomed the latest planned rules, but flagged the lack of detail, which can have a significant impact.

"As an industry we are constantly fighting for survival during these unprecedented times, and these announcements are thus good news for the industry, even though we await the full regulations and directives to be published in order to understand what is and isn't allowed in more detail," said the body in a statement. "For example, we did not hear anything about attractions opening and whether normal tour busses or vehicles are allowed to operate as only open top safari type vehicles were mentioned. "

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