Beaches still lure many visitors in the Garden Route

Authorities are relying on the cooler weather this morning to dampen people’s urge to visit the beach as part of their New Year’s celebrations.

Meanwhile, they are holding their breath to see what will happen tomorrow 2 January, or the second New Year’s, which is traditionally a day many folks associate with a day spent at the beach.

The new regulations promulgated on Tuesday 29 December, which prohibits any visits to beaches, rivers, river mouths, or dams, have not been strictly adhered to.

In hot spot areas such as the Garden Route even fishing and surfing are against the regulations.

Victoria Bay, Herold’s Bay, and Gwaing River mouth have seen their share of visitors since Monday night’s declaration of the adjusted level 3 state of lockdown by president Cyril Ramaphosa. Towards Mossel Bay much beach activity have been noticed in Rheebok, Hartenbos, and at Santos beach.

Beach policing

Currently, the burden to keep visitors off the beaches is resting squarely on the shoulders of the police.

According to a reliable source, they do not receive any help from municipal law enforcement officials to make sure people keep off the beaches. “The people are willful and do not care about the regulations. A few policemen can’t handle this alone,” said the source. Comment from the police on the matter is being awaited.

The source maintains that the enforcement of the regulations is not just a police function, but a law enforcement function as well: “Currently law enforcement officials merely ensure that the municipal bylaws are being adhered to, such as no drinking of alcohol on the beaches. They do not enforce the ‘no beach visiting’ rule. I would like to know why are there still lifesavers on the beaches at all?”

It is widely known that the police, as front-line workers, are currently struggling with their numbers due to Covid-19 infections.

According to the municipal spokesperson, Chantèl Edwards-Klose the pandemic has had a severe effect on the municipal law enforcement and traffic departments too: “At present the Law Enforcement Officers are finding it very challenging to perform their core functions as a result of the limited number of officers. This situation is exacerbated by the current prevailing Covid-19 crises.”

She said the South African Police is the main enforcer of the Disaster management regulations whilst the municipal Law Enforcement Officers are primarily responsible to ensure that municipal by-laws are adhered to.

“Although the Municipality encourages the public to adhere to the regulations, and have empathy with SAPS, its Law Enforcement Officers due to serious capacity constraints are unfortunately not able to assist them to carry out their duties.”

Edwards-Klose said municipal law enforcement officers and municipal traffic officials have a mandate to ensure compliance with the municipal by-laws and the road traffic act.

“The national Disaster Regulations as amended on 29 December 2020 are very clear that George and surrounds are currently classified as a Hotspot and access is prohibited to beaches, lagoons, rivers, dams and estuaries with public swimming pools in George and surrounds remaining closed,” said Edwards-Klose.

“The Executive Mayor in a press release today [31 December] once again made an urgent plea to the public to take note the national regulations and adhere to it for their own benefit and safety.”

-The Citizen

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