Road to recovery as lockdown level 2 kicks in

The Red bus is open for business following the lockdown level 2 announcements. Pic : jason boud

The city centre came alive over the weekend after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last week that the country would move to level 2 of the national lockdown.

Spaces that have opened to the public include museums, galleries, libraries, archives as well as personal care services. 

Relaxed restrictions, which include the lifting of bans on the sales of alcohol and cigarettes as well as inter-provincial travel, have been welcomed.

Last Friday, August 21, the CapeTowner visited Long Street, which had been lifeless since the lockdown started in March, to find a hive of activity with lit-up balconies and people visiting restaurants. 

However, the national curfew from 10pm to 4am is still being observed.

The City Central Improvement District (CCID), applauded the decision to move the country to level 2.

CCID CEO Tasso Evangelinos said this enabled many businesses in the city to get back on track after the devastating impact the lockdown has had on the economy.

The City’s Mayoral committee member for economic opportunities, James Vos, said it was time for the city to bounce back.

“I celebrate with restaurants, bars and taverns as they are allowed to sell alcohol for on-site consumption and welcome the boost this will bring to these businesses that have suffered under the lockdown regulations.”

Cape Town Tourism has also welcomed the ease of regulations. 

CEO Enver Duminy said tourism restrictions during lockdown have forced many businesses to close, tens of thousands of hard-working and committed tourism practitioners to lose their livelihoods and increased the strain and stress on their already burdened families. 

“We believe that the protocols we have in place will give South Africans all the confidence to visit attractions, destinations and experiences in Cape Town who will ensure memorable moments in a safe and enjoyable way. It’s time to rebuild our sector and reignite domestic travel. The road to recovery ahead will be long, it will be winding, there will be speed bumps and speeding tickets but our tanks are full and we have a clear road map ahead and will work hard to reach our promised destination.”

Following the lifting of some of the bans, most tourist attractions which have been closed since the lockdown started in March have announced their re-opening.

Sightseeing Cape Town said the iconic Red Bus will be back on the road, with strict safety protocols, as well as a discounted rate as attractions along the route start opening. 

Claus Tworeck, the chairman of City Sightseeing South Africa, said the pandemic has been devastating on so many fronts, however, the time has come to welcome back Capetonians in a away that is safe for passengers and staff. 

Safety protocols on the bus include the mandatory use of masks by staff and passengers, temperature checks, cleaning throughout the day and deep cleaning every night, hand sanitiser being made available at all touch points, regular sanitizing of ticket offices and limited bus capacity with strict social distancing protocols.

The Two Oceans Aquarium is reopening on Tuesday September 1. 

Michael Farquhar, CEO of the Two Oceans Aquarium, said they were delighted to reopen after five months of closure.

“The aquarium will once again be filled with the buzz of enthusiastic visitors, discovering the magic and beauty of the underwater world. Now we can get back to our purpose of saving the oceans and inspiring all who visit.”

Some of the aquariums safety measures include contactless payment options at the ticket office, screening on arrival, mandatory wearing of masks, and visitor number restrictions.

Some of the aquarium’s exhibits and offerings will be temporarily closed in the interest of visitor safety. These include some of the crawl-through exhibits and animal feeding presentations.The I&J Children’s play centre has been closed, although puppet shows will still be presented. 

In a statement, the CCID said masks should be worn at all times, and people should adhere to all safety protocols. 

The V&A Waterfront also announced the opening of Battery Park and the Cape Wheel over the weekend, as well as museums, boat cruises and helicopter rides. 

Visitors are encouraged to contact the facilities directly for trading hours and information on safety protocol. 

Mr Vos said  the 10pm curfew did not make sense because restaurants are allowed to serve until 10pm, but patrons must be home by this time.

He also said the continued ban on the sale of alcohol from Friday to Sunday still excludes the wine industry as they will not be able to open for tastings or to sell their products on weekends when much of their business is conducted.