Tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has announced a number of new lockdown rule changes aimed at alleviating the stress around South Africa’s tourism industry.
In a media briefing on Thursday (30 July), the minister said these changes follow consultations made with cabinet and the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC).
The biggest changes include:
- The evening curfew has been moved to 22h00 to allow restaurants to run a dinner service and give staff time to return home. The sale of alcohol remains prohibited;
- Individuals will be allowed to leave their homes for leisure purposes – but only within their provinces;
- As per the above, accommodation facilities will be allowed to open for leisure purposes. However, no more than two people may share a room, with the exceptions of a ‘nuclear’ family (two parents and up to two children);
- Short-term rental sharing, such as Airbnb, remains closed;
- Inter-provincial travel for leisure is still prohibited;
- Tour operators will be allowed to provide guided tours in open-top vehicles.
On home sharing specifically, the minister said that there are concerns from the department’s health teams surrounding that sector.
She said the department has met with Airbnb, and there is a process being put in place, going through protocols submitted by Airbnb, which the department will then take to to the NCCC.
However, she noted that not all home sharing in South Africa is registered with Airbnb, so more needs to be done in the sector – therefore these services remain closed for now.
Kubayi-Ngubane said that the government will publish an official gazette detailing these changes and the official implementation date shortly.
While the tourism industry will welcome many of the above changes, the continued ban on the sale of alcohol is likely to remain a serious sticking point.
Earlier this week, the Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) said that the government was considering a proposal to lift the country’s ban on the sale of alcohol and evening curfew.
The association’s Wendy Alberts said that the proposal would see individual areas take responsibility for alcohol consumption and that individual consumers would have to apply for a permit to purchase alcohol – likely at the local police station – and would have to apply using their phone number and other forms of registration.
Alberts said that the association is also calling for a lifting of an evening curfew as it served no purpose considering the current ban on the sale of alcohol.
She stressed that the lifting of alcohol ban was of vital importance and that the restaurant industry cannot continue under the current regulations.