Lifting of Covid-19 restrictions welcomed

Many businesses in the city centre welcomed the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, including the end of mask-wearing.

Big businesses in the Cape Town CBD have welcomed the news of the South African government dropping the remaining Covid-19 restrictions, the lifting of mask-wearing, and ending of gathering limitations and checks on all travellers coming into the country.

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla gazetted the new regulations on Wednesday following a decline in Covid-19 reported cases, hospitalisations and reported deaths.

Mayoral committee member for economic growth, James Vos, said the City of Cape Town had made numerous submissions to the national government to help achieve this final outcome.

“This is great news for the hospitality sector and tourism-related businesses specifically. The lifting of restrictions will translate to more business and lead to increased economic activity and jobs.

“I have personally seen how these lockdowns and restrictions have decimated the revenues of many businesses. I’m very happy that things can now return to normal.”

Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy said they were “delighted” at the news, and said the lifting of regulations was a big win for South African tourism.

“We remain committed to moving from tourism recovery to a chapter of tourism readiness. Since January, we have seen a continued upward trajectory in local and international passenger movements. In March, we saw a 72% recovery in domestic arrivals and 62% in international arrivals. In April, our domestic recovery numbers increased by 4%, with an impressive 12% jump in international arrivals.”

He said the Cape Town Tourism accommodation report also found the Mother City’s occupancy rates for March reached 66.6%, up from 39.8% in March 2021, with the average room rate rising to R1 972, up from R991 in 2021. And last year, despite the ongoing pandemic and lockdowns, tourism drove R5.8 billion into the city’s economy.

“The repeal of these restrictions will, no doubt, further hasten recovery.”

Artscape CEO Marlene le Roux said the theatre expressed “absolute joy and elation” on the announcement that repealed the severely restrictive regulations.

“We are particularly thankful that we can now pursue a return to normal with even more invigorated theatre productions, which does justice to the world-class talent that we have as a nation.”

She said Artscape will showcase a number of productions in July, and was excited to host performances at full capacity to celebrate Women’s Month in August. “Let’s get South Africans, all those who live in it and all those who visit it, back in our theatre.”

David Green, CEO of the V&A Waterfront, also welcomed the announcement. “This will go a long way to boosting tourism and events recovery that’s already under way, which is so critical to getting jobs and livelihoods back on track for so many people in the sector. It is great news for the Waterfront, for the city and for the country.”

Taubie Motlhabane, CEO of the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), said they, and the entire business events industry, are delighted with the decision to lift all restrictions for gatherings and entry into South Africa. “Delegates can travel freely into Cape Town and South Africa, and our venues can once again operate at full capacity. This in turn means more revenues for the hospitality value chain, more jobs and greater positive economic impact.”

Graham Wood, group COO for hospitality at Sun International Group, also welcomed the news.

“The restrictions on gatherings in particular have been onerous on the gaming, hospitality, conferencing and eventing industries. The relaxation of the regulations will have a positive effect on tourism, and we are hoping for an accelerated recovery in international leisure demand from our global source markets.”

Eddy Cassar, director of the annual Jive Cape Town Funny Festival, added that the lifting of the Covid-19 regulations is a major game changer for the festival and theatre in general.

“There is an energy that a crowded audience emits which creates an experience for both the performer and fellow audience members that cannot be artificially replicated. Though it will take months for the industry to return to 2019 levels, the lifting is hugely welcomed.”

The festival’s new media partner is Cape Community Media (CCM), which publishes CapeTowner.

The Jive Cape Town Funny Festival runs until Sunday July 3.