WESTERN CAPE NEWS - We are very pleased that our borders will be opened for international travel from 1 October and we keenly await further details on this, including the list of countries cleared for travel to South Africa.
We also need to know what data will be used to determine this list and how regularly it will be updated.
The tourism sector in this country and this province supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and has been severely impacted by the lockdown. What it needs most now is consistency and certainty.
Passengers wanting to book holidays to South Africa must be able to do so with the confidence that their flight will not be cancelled at short notice.
Wesgro and the Air Access team have been working on a detailed recovery plan for how it will assist during and after international flights resume.
Most airlines that were previously active in our market have Cape Town in their schedules for the IATA Winter (our Summer) which begins on 24 October. We therefore anticipate a gradual return, with some flights resuming on 1 October, others on 24 October and others planning to resume in December to allow time for bookings.
A realistic expectation is that airlines will initially fly with less capacity and with lower frequency.
We have seen returning confidence in the local travel category- with load factors increasing from 59% in June to 87% in September and we believe the Western Cape has a lot to offer international travellers. Aside from our value, wide variety of attractions and wide-open spaces, this province also has a proven track-record in the management of this virus which will put travelers at ease.
The reopening of air travel also has a positive impact on the movement of air cargo. The Western Cape's peak export season is between September and March, while the peak for imports is in October and November. The resumption of flights in October will therefore still allow us to make use of some of the peak import and export periods.
Our most recent estimations indicate that the lockdown period has resulted in 162 000 jobs in the province, with approximately 77 000 of these in the tourism and hospitality sector.
The Western Cape is committed to ensuring that we are able to open to international travel safely so that we can win back some of those jobs lost and move forward towards economic recovery.
Revised testing criteria:
During the digicon, Dr Keith Cloete, head of the Western Cape Department of Health, also outlined the Western Cape Government's new testing criteria in the Cape Town metro (testing in the rest of the province was never restricted in accordance with the risk adjust strategy and widespread testing continues there):
The new testing criteria now also include:
- Asymptomatic pre-op patients
- Natural cause deaths at home
- Public sector "essential" workers with symptoms
- Incarcerated people with symptoms
- School learners and staff with symptoms
- Workers in workplaces with symptoms
These new testing criteria will help us to closely monitor infections in the province and quickly pick up any changes. Despite an increase in demand for testing since these new testing criteria were put in place about a week ago, we continue to see declining test positivity rates.
As the Western Cape Government, we have provided the necessary healthcare facilities, we have widened testing and we continue to implement our hotspot strategy across the province. We have lobbied for the reopening of the economy and we will continue to work hard to develop a recovery plan focused on the people of this province.
All we ask in return is that you act responsibly, that businesses ensure that they operate safely, and that as individuals, we are wearing our masks, washing our hands and practicing social distancing. This is how we will move forward safely.
Update on the coronavirus
As of 13:00 on Thursday 17 September, the Western Cape has 2 675 active cases of COVID-19, with a total of 108 226 confirmed cases and 101 452 recoveries.
Garden Route district
- George 3 481 cases, 3 257 recoveries
- Bitou: 607 cases, 573 recoveries
- Knysna: 1 450 cases, 1 347 recoveries
- Mossel Bay: 2 309 cases, 2 183 recoveries
- Hessequa: 302 cases, 280 recoveries
- Oudtshoorn: 1 366 cases, 1 148 recoveries
- Kannaland: 110 cases, 109 recoveries
For more details, click here
The Western Cape has recorded an additional 12 deaths, bringing the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in the province to 4 099. We send our condolences to their family and friends at this time.
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