The Durban beachfront which is usually bustling with people on the last day of the year is almost desolate on New Year’s Eve. Despite the eThekwini Municipality announcing that the promenade is still open to the public under the new lockdown regulations, only a handful of people were walking along it.
Durban residents say, unlike previous years, they will not take the risk of going beyond their gates.
President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this week announced South Africa’s move to an adjusted Level 3 lockdown. The move aimed to curb the spread of the coronavirus which has claimed more than 28 000 lives in South Africa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation:
The last day of the year is normally characterised by festivities to usher in the New Year. People from around the country normally flock to various spots around Durban in anticipation of the year-end celebrations.
This year roads leading to the beachfront are empty, something that is unusual on New Year’s Eve. Durban residents say COVID-19 has forced them to change how they do things.
“We’re planning to spend time as a family and make a nice braai at home. We’re not going to take the risk of going out. It’s not going to be the New Year of the past that’s for sure. Luckily I stocked up before the shutdown as soon as I heard my fellow South Africans I went straight to the bar…It’s very difficult because we are used to coming here and having a party and enjoy ourselves but all that has changed as you can see how empty it is around here.”
Local party scenes have taken a major knock following the country’s move to adjusted Level 3 Lockdown. Some establishments were forced to cancel New Year celebrations.
Business owners along the Golden Mile say this New Year’s Eve will be very different. “This New Year’s Eve to start with it’s going to be very different from all other years. If you look at Gagasini, we are a three-dimensional business. We sell alcohol, food and then we also do events and now that alcohol is banned, which means we cannot have sales from alcohol, we cannot do events because gatherings are prohibited,” says Manager at a popular entertainment establishment, Reason Madonga.
Local street vendors and the famous Durban rickshaws have also lost business. Zonke Cebekhulu and Mbuso say: “The pain of seeing customers getting out of their cars and as soon as they realise the beach is closed they’ll get back into their cars and leave. We know that December is our busiest time and this is the month we depend on the most. But this year we didn’t get that many people who wanted to ride.”
Meanwhile, police operations to clamp down on those defying regulations continue around the province.
South Africans have been urged to adhere to the regulations. Police Minister Bheki Cele says officials will be out in numbers to ensure compliance.
Cele says police will not hesitate to arrest those who do not adhere to the regulations:
-Reporting by Nonhlakanipho Magwaza
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