Tourism Minister Mmamokolo Kubayi-Ngubane has announced changes to South Africa’s level 3 lockdown for the tourism sector, including a new curfew time and intra-provincial leisure travel.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Kubayi-Ngubane said the changes have been agreed upon by the Cabinet following consultations with the sector. They will apply on the date they are officially published in the government gazette, she added.
New lockdown rules South Africa
Curfew South Africa
The Minister said the current 21h00 curfew in South Africa means that restaurants have been unable to operate “at [the] peak time during their business day.”
“In response to this challenge, Cabinet has agreed to move the curfew to start at 10pm to allow for uninterrupted dinner service at restaurants. We believe that this change will go a long way towards increasing their revenue generation. The sale of alcohol remains prohibited,” she said.
Accordingly, 22h00 (10pm) will be the new curfew time South Africa once the new regulations have been gazetted.
Leisure travel South Africa
Kubayi-Ngubane said the Cabinet has also agreed to relax restrictions on leisure travel in South Africa which currently do not allow people to leave their homes for leisure purposes.
She added, “After the release of the new regulations, individuals will be permitted to leave their homes for leisure purposes within the province where they currently live.
“Let me emphasise, it is only intra-provincial travel not inter-provincial travel. Individuals are still not permitted to travel between provinces for leisure purposes.”
This change means that accommodation establishments will now be permitted to operate to cater for intra-provincial travel. However, the Minister outlined the following provisos:
- No more than two people per room except for a nuclear family (parents and their children). Establishments are already legally obliged to require and keep a copy of proof of identity.
- Short-term home rental/sharing remain closed.
“Tour operators, in the new regulations, will be allowed to conduct guided tours in open safari vehicles subject to directions and include provision for both social distancing and maximum ventilation,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.
The changes are likely to offer some relief for the tourism and hospitality sector, which has been one of the hardest hit since the lockdown was first introduced in March.
Kubayi-Ngubane also said her Department could only assist 4,000 entities in the sector out of the more than 7,200 that had applied for assistance from its R200 million Tourism Relief Fund.
She added, “Allocation of funds was conducted in line with government policies and ensured that there was equitable share of the resources across all regions of the country, including rural areas and small towns/dorpies.
“We are encouraged by the many letters of appreciation from patriotic South Africans, black and white, who did not listen to the misleading noise that the relief was specifically for black people. This ultimately confused and discouraged even those who qualified for the grant not to apply.”