S. Africa adjusts tourism regulations to minimize impact of COVID-19

Medical workers disinfect equipment at an isolation ward in a hospital in Pretoria, South Africa, July 10, 2020. As of Thursday, a total of 238,339 COVID-19 cases were reported in South Africa, said Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. (Photo by Yeshiel/Xinhua)
FILE PHOTO: Chairs are placed on top of tables while staff hold a meeting, after Sakhumzi restaurant closed for over a month as South Africa starts to relax some aspects of a stringent nationwide coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown in Soweto. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

With about 700,000 jobs predicted to be lost in the tourism sector in South Africa this year due to COVID-19, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane on Thursday addressed tourism-related activities under COVID-19 Risk-Adjusted Level 3.

She said the cabinet has decided to extend the national curfew to 10 p.m. from 9 p.m. to accommodate restaurants, which have had to cut their dinner services short under the current curfew.

Leisure travel within one’s own province is now also allowed, but people still can not cross provincial lines.

Kubayi-Ngubane said the impact of the pandemic has been devastating for the tourism sector.

“Many businesses are at risk and many jobs have already been lost. However, we are doing everything we can to ensure that the impact is minimized,” the minister said.

The local tourism sector came to a halt at the end of March when strict lockdown measures were imposed resulting in the closure of many businesses.

Kubayi-Ngubane said the tourism department has set aside millions towards relief measures for the businesses affected by the pandemic.

“The department redirected 200 million rand (about 11.8 million U.S. dollars) through the Tourism Relief Fund. Of the 7,284 valid applications submitted, our resources could only assist 4,000 businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector,” she said.

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