Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has written to president Cyril Ramaphosa, formally requesting that the government ease lockdown restrictions around gatherings.
Hill-Lewis said that this includes two specific requests which are necessary for helping restart the economy:
- That the 50% capacity rule for outdoor public facilities, like public swimming pools, be lifted entirely.
- That spectators be allowed to return to watch major sporting events – such as the ongoing India-South Africa cricket tour.
Under current level 1 regulations, the number of people permitted at an indoor gathering is 1,000, while the number of people permitted at outdoor events is 2,000.
In instances where a venue cannot accommodate this many people, no more than 50% of the venue capacity may be used with people spaced at least 1.5 metres apart from one another.
“As the summer peak season gets into full gear, and the latest Omicron variant of Covid-19 proves to have less of a negative impact than the previous Delta variant, the resumption of public entertainment and sporting events should be a priority for aiding economic recovery,” Hill-Lewis said.
In addition to the strong demand for public swimming pools, Hill-Lewis said the City of Cape Town has shown that it can safely manage large events with clear adherence to health safety protocols to protect residents and spectators, he said.
“Since October last year, we have hosted the Cycle Tour, the ABSA Cape Epic, Miss SA, the Cape Town Marathon and the FNB One Run among others. All of these are high-profile and large events hosted successfully during a pandemic. In all of these cases, we can provide data to show that the number of infections from the respective event has been very low.”
This experience shows that we can now remove capacity restrictions at sporting events too, he said.
“With a large number of Cape Town residents vaccinated, adhering to mask-wearing where required, it is possible to safely return to having spectators at sports events, as can be seen at stadiums and events all over the world.
“The SA v India cricket matches currently taking place in Cape Town, as well as rugby and football matches scheduled to take place at the Newlands and DHL stadiums, will benefit from crowds in the stands cheering on their teams.”
These crowds also support the livelihoods of dozens of small businesses and vendors in and around those events, Hill-Lewis said.