New proposals to re-open the events industry in South Africa

 ·4 Sep 2020

The government met with business stakeholders on Thursday (3 September) to discuss conditions for the re-opening of the events sector in South Africa.

Live events have been prohibited in the country for close to seven months, with events stopped before the country moved into a hard lockdown at the end of March.

The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture – which led the discussions – said it is aware of the frustration and challenges that are faced by practitioners and businesses in the sector.

“Government is doing everything it can while ensuring relevant regulations are adhered to. Hence there is a progressive approach of facing in the restrictions to allow for the sector to resume its activities and for creatives to practice their craft,” it said.

The department met with the South African Communication Industries Association (SACIA), to discuss protocols to enable staff in the technical and live-events industry to return to work safely, as well as ensure the safety of people attending events.

As part of the meeting, SACIA presented the stringent safety measures and protocols they plan have put in place to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 at events organised by any of their affiliated member organisations.

Some of the proposals include:

  • The prohibition of the consumption of alcohol at events with over 300 participants;
  • A separate safety plan for 1,000 participants (drive-ins);
  • In addition to the normal health and safety protocols, SACIA proposes to use technology such as electronic capacity monitoring systems to track how many participants are at events at any given time;
  • New regulations on the number of participants at events, currently set at 50 people, to take into consideration the size/area or total capacity of venues and not the current 50 participants’ restriction, as this does not ensure that safety protocols of social distancing are respected.

Limit of 50 people

While gatherings of more than 50 people are still prohibited by the country’s lockdown level 2 regulations, the department expressed a need to use percentages of capacity, rather than absolute numbers, as a measure for limitations.

It further committed to using the two weeks before the 15th September as the window of opportunity to engage and consult on the plan.

“It is important to mention that in engaging with the SACIA; there was a mutual agreement that while it is important for government to open the economy and allowing industries to begin going through a recovery process, it is also of equal importance that the livelihoods of people are protected,” the department said.

“Therefore all measures should be taken to minimise the risk of the spread of infections and the possible surge of the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic.”

South Africa’s events industry has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus lockdown, with thousands of people unable to return to work under the current lockdown.

This led to the formation of the “light SA red” campaign which was created by members of the industry as a means of highlighting their issues. The campaign saw national landmarks, including table mountain lit up with red spotlights.

Read: These critical skills are in high demand in South Africa

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