Events halted as Covid spreads

Closed, cancelled, suspended and postponed until further notice. These are notices that the country has been hearing since the president stepped up the fight against the spread of Covid-19.

Events, schools and entertainment venues around the city centre have postponed or cancelled shows following the growing number of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in the country.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation about the epidemic, and put restrictions in place, including travel bans, school closures, and the prohibition of gatherings of over 100 people.

Among the city centre events which were cancelled in the past few days were the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) as well as the Free Jazz concert on Greenmarket Square, the Cape Town Carnival Parade, the book launches at the Book Lounge in Roeland Street, Community Chest closed its Bree Street offices and The Fugard Theatre cancelled performances.

The jazz festival was to have taken place on Friday March 27 and Saturday March 28 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) and festival director Billy Domingo described the decision to cancel as “one we have not made lightly”.

“As a flagship event for South Africa, with over 40 000 local and international attendees, we are committed to acting in the best interest of our loyal festinos, performing artists, service providers, employees and the public at large,” he said.

For details on ticket refunds, visit the Frequently Asked Questions section of the website, www.capetownjazzfest.com

For refunds on hospitality packages, contact the espAfrika hotline on 021 671 0506 or email hospitality@espafrika.com to be assisted by the team.

The Book Lounge owner, Mervyn Sloman, cancelled all launches and events at the Book Lounge until further notice.

However, he said, the delivery service would continue to be operational as would the online store.

He said that Covid-19, loadshedding, the recession, and inequality were among the issues which made it increasingly difficult for small companies to stay afloat.

“I appeal to those of you who decide to self-isolate to find ways to still support businesses that you would like to see survive the next few months.”

On Sunday evening the Cape Town Carnival Trust issued a statement announcing the cancellation of the Cape Town Carnival Parade, which was scheduled for Saturday March 21. “In consultation with our stakeholders, the trustees and management of the Cape Town Carnival resolved to cancel the carnival parade in the best interests of the health and welfare of all people and particularly the communities we serve,” the trust said.

“We would like to thank the 44 community groups, the individual performers, and the carnival staff that have worked tirelessly to prepare for this event.”

Professor Rachel Jafta, chairperson of the Cape Town Carnival Trust, added: “My heart goes out to the carnival communities and our management team that have worked so hard to make this year’s parade extra special.”

Community Chest also closed its offices this week, “in solidarity with the global and national efforts to stop the spread of the virus and to save lives”.

Spokesperson Desiree Goliath said the board had taken a “no risk taking” approach and would not be lax in any effort to curb the spread of the virus.

“This calls on us to ensure that, while we all adopt appropriate social distancing practices at this time, that we continue to look for ways to ensure that the poor, the vulnerable and the aged are not victimised due to enforced conduct to ensure our own survival. If anything, people with compromised immune systems like the poor, the aged and those suffering from chronic disease are often the most at risk individuals.”

The Fugard Theatre has also postponed productions until further notice as “the health and well-being of audiences, actors and The Fugard staff remain a concern” and that all patrons would be contacted to arrange a full refund for seats booked.

“Sometimes the show can’t go on. If you have tickets to a live performance or screening which has been cancelled due to Covid-19, please consider donating your ticket rather than requesting a refund. This is the kind of thing that can kill the arts,” said Lamees Albertus, general manager and producer at The Fugard Theatre.

It will be business as usual at Gate69 on Bree Street, however, with management having implemented measures to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, including having hand sanitiser available at all times, deep cleaning the premises every day, no kisses and hugs from the Trolley Dollies, and the staff will wear gloves when preparing food. Gate69’s capacity is under 100 people.

“Yes, Covid-19 is frightening, but not as frightening as an economy grinding to a rusty halt. We must all get up, put on our big girl panties, go to work, wash our hands and save as many jobs as we can if we are to survive what’s coming for us,” said the management of Gate69.

The Cape Town Holocaust and Genocide Centre, the SA Jewish Museum, Cafe Riteve, and the Jacob Gitlin Library have also closed until further notice, and have postponed all public programmes. The Gardens Shul will remain open for services only.

Meanwhile, the V&A Waterfront has also cancelled all events, including free concerts and the buskers programme.

Waterfront spokesperson, Donald Kau, said they had already implemented measures to improve hygiene two weeks ago.

“We have started to provide additional hand sanitisers in high visitor movement areas and an increased cleaning regime to disinfect surfaces and table tops in public areas, we have restored availability of water and soap dispensers in the taps in our restrooms that had been reduced due to water restrictions because of the drought we have been experiencing,” he said.

“We also have two ER24 clinics on our site. The clinics are currently implementing contingency plans for clinic operations across the property, and we have rolled out public communication to support the public health and hygiene messaging within our facilities.”

Mayor Dan Plato said the City had put together a coronavirus task team who would meet daily to assess the situation and advise of any additional measures that need to be put in place.

He said the City had decided to cancel all portfolio, sub-council, and ward committee meetings until further notice.

“We will continue to assess the situation and update this instruction as needed. We will be engaging with the speaker, Dirk Smit and all political parties about how to deal with important matters such as the City’s budget, which is set to be tabled at the council meeting later this month.

“We will need to adjust our approach to public participation processes as we will not be able to have public meetings, and we are encouraging residents to please email or hand in written submissions on matters that require public participation, and in general to use email, website and telephone to engage the council, rather than in person.”to use email, website and telephone to engage the council, rather than in person.”