Holidaymakers and locals alike were dealt a heavy blow yesterday as the Pretoria High Court ruled that the beaches in Jeffreys Bay and St Francis Bay will remain closed until 3 January 2021.
This is devastating for small businesses who were relying on generating income after a grim 2020 where hard lockdowns killed the economy of the coastal towns.
The Kouga Municipality went to court in an attempt to overturn the regulations which closed the beaches and to find a balance between saving lives and saving livelihoods.
However, Judge Hans Fabricius ruled that that any infringement of rights resulting from the ban was justified in terms of the constitution.
The decision to close the beaches, he said, was not irrational or unlawful.
“There is no doubt that the state has a constitutional obligation to protect the health of its citizens or inhabitants,” Judge Fabricius said.
“The pandemic must be halted or its spread at least limited by all lawful and rational means.”
The government took the decision on the basis of the sudden spike in infections as a result of the virus having mutated into a new variant, and based on views of experts of international renown.
“Hospitals are already overwhelmed, elective surgery has been cancelled, and even younger people have now been found to be spreaders of the virus,” the judge noted.
“The strain on public health resources can and should be reduced by limiting movement of persons during the festive season during which, for some strange reason, persons seem to lack perspective and responsibility on a daily basis.
The risk of contracting and transmitting the virus must be reduced. I agree that these purposes are legitimate, urgent and necessary.”