Law enforcement officers in the coastal town of Port St John’s in the Eastern Cape are keeping a close eye on local beaches. This is to ensure compliance with lockdown regulations and to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Signs, which stipulate that swimming is prohibited, are posted on the town’s second beach. Even roads leading to the beach are closed.
Lifeguards are on standby. One of them, Siphosakhe Nokhamatye, says they are looking out for any eventualities.
“Why we put those flags like that it shows the beach is closed. The swimming is prohibited; no one is allowed to swim on the beach. Then we can keep standing and wait for somebody who is gonna come. The ones who don’t know why we put these flags like that, we keep on telling each one of them.”
Local businesses have also been badly affected. Car wash manager near the beach, Sonwabile Mlawu, says it will take time for him to recover.
“Business has been badly affected. I don’t make money anymore here. Sometimes, we get one customer a day since the lockdown. It’s even worse here because it is far from town. Vehicles usually come here before they go to the beach. Since Monday, business has not been doing well,” he says.
The coastal town of Port St John’s attracts tourists from around the world. Mayor Nomvuzo Mlombile-Cingo says the closure of the beaches has cost them, but it was for a good cause.
“We know that the closure of beaches is a huge blow to us because most of the time Port St Johns depends on tourism. The number of tourists has significantly dropped and out guest houses and BnBs are empty. But we have explained to the tourists who are already here that we must go around and see the beauty of our area but our beaches are closed.”
The beaches across the Eastern Cape province will remain closed until the 3rd of January as proclaimed by president Cyril Ramaphosa.
The move is aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.
Eastern Cape beaches closed on Wednesday amid new restrictions:
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