All Mpumalanga tourism attractions, gambling and betting places and liquor-selling outlets will be closed during lockdown

Finance, Economic Development and Tourism MEC Pat Ngomane said all provincial tourism attractions (both public and private), gambling and betting places and liquor-selling outlets will be closed for 21 days during the national lockdown.

The lockdown period, as declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa, runs from Thursday, 26 March (midnight), until Thursday, 16 April 2020.

“In adhering to directives as per the national lockdown, all our provincial nature reserves, including those on the popular Panorama Route, like the Blyde River Canyon, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, God’s Window, Three Rondavels and Pinnacle, will be closed to the public effective from 16:00 on Wednesday, 25 March 2020. We have also engaged our private sector stakeholders, who have committed to adhere to the lockdown directives, and as such, even private tourism attractions will also be closed during the said period. We must, however, indicate that our essential services staff like Field Rangers, and all those in the Wildlife Management Programme, will continue to work around the clock to ensure the safety of our biological assets,” explained MEC Ngomane.

“We have also communicated with, and instructed the operators of the licensed three casinos, all Limited Payment Machines Outlets, bingo and betting sites in the province, to halt their operations during the lockdown period, and they have indicated that they will duly comply. We have also, through the Mpumalanga Economic Regulator (MER), issued direct notices to the 5 882 active liquor outlets, urging them to heed the call, since the newly gazetted regulations applies to all holders of liquor licences issued by the regulator. This means all liquor outlets – without exception – are also directed to close their premises. This includes all shebeens, pubs, taverns in our townships and any other place selling alcohol on their premises, like hotels and restaurants,” stressed Ngomane.

To ensure compliance, the province’s Liquor License Inspectors – under the MER – will continue to work with the South African Police to monitor and enforce adherence to the non-negotiable closure directive.

“Anyone not adhering to the directives during the lockdown period will be dealt with by law enforcement officers. I therefore urge our people to work with us by complying to these non-negotiable directives. We further want to clarify that spaza and local shops, in our townships and rural areas, that are selling basic and essential food supplies, will be allowed to operate during the lockdown period, for as long they are not selling alcohol. We also ensure that there is smooth delivery of the stock or goods they have ordered,” explained MEC Ngomane.

Four provincial nature reserves have been identified as quarantine sites by the National Department of Health – SS Skosana (36 beds); Andover (14 beds); Manyeleti (285 beds) and Kroomdraai Camp (120 beds). Additional quarantine sites include the MRTT Hotel School in KaNyamazane, The Royal Hotel in Pilgrim’s Rest, Graskop Lodge and all boarding schools in the province.

“We can also confirm that we have provided sanitisers and the necessary protective clothing to our staff at all MTPA-managed attractions, including nature reserves. We further call upon private sector stakeholders, who have not as yet provided things like sanitisers for public use at their businesses, to do so as a matter of urgency. This is not a luxury but a critical preventative measure to protect and save lives of our people,” added Ngomane.

Community members are also urged to continue to wash their hands regularly, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or to utilise sanitisers with a minimum alcohol content of 60%. In case of emergency, they are advised to contact the National 24-Hour COVID-19 Hotline on 0800 029 999. Regular updates on the COVID-19 pandemic can also be received by interacting with government via the WhatsApp information line on 060 0123 456.

The public is further advised that the Mpumalanga Department of Economic Development, including its three Public Entities – Mpumalanga Tourism & Parks Agency, Mpumalanga Economic Regulator and the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency – will suspend face-to-face service provision for the duration of the lockdown.

“We, however, advise the public that they can still access our services via our online platforms like websites and social media platforms. Our officials will be working from home during the lockdown period, and will attend to their queries,” concluded MEC Ngomane.