Photo: Flickr / Steve Guess

Here’s why the Garden Route avoided tougher lockdown restrictions

The Western Cape, home to one of the worst COVID-19 hot-spots in the country, has not been hit by any additional restrictions. So what spared the Garden Route?


Photo: Flickr / Steve Guess

The jol for Nelson Mandela Bay is going to hit different this festive season, as the metro became the first – and only – region in South Africa to be hit by tougher local lockdown restrictions. This, despite sharing ‘hot-spot’ status with both the Garden Route and Sarah Baartman Districts. Naturally, the people of NMB have questions…

Photo: TheSouthAfrican

NMB punished – but why weren’t others?

As one of the worst-hit areas from a summer COVID-19 resurgence, Nelson Mandela Bay can have no complaints about its status. It can, however, point fingers at some of those neighbouring districts with similar struggles.

The Garden Route is a particular source of fascination, given that it was singled out for its infection rates by President Ramaphosa on Thursday evening – yet nothing has changed here.

“The total number of hospital admissions is now over 5 800 nationally and rising. Three weeks ago hospital admissions were 4 900. There are three areas of the country that account for most of these new infections. These are Nelson Mandela Bay, the Sarah Baartman District in the Eastern Cape, and the Garden Route District in the Western Cape.”

“Many people are travelling between provinces in higher numbers, especially with the festive season approaching. In the case of the Garden Route, this also applies to the movement of seasonal workers who work in one province and live elsewhere. There are parts of the country where people are not complying with the current restrictions.”

Cyril Ramaphosa

How did the Garden Route avoid more lockdown restrictions?

Further assessments still need to be carried out:

Just because the Garden Route wasn’t given further restrictions on Thursday doesn’t mean the region won’t be affected in the near future. Zweli Mkhize is set to undertake a visit to this part of the province, and will assess the situation himself before any new lockdown laws are introduced. It’s very much a waiting game in the Western Cape.

“In the coming days the Minister of Health will be visiting… the Garden Route to assess the situation and to engage with various stakeholders in the province. Based on this assessment and the development of the disease in these areas, the National Coronavirus Command Council will determine the appropriate course of action.”

Cyril Ramaphosa

DA suggests ‘quality infrastructure’ has been considered:

The governing party in the Western Cape is supremely confident in its COVID-19 reaction plans. John Steenhuisen believes that the Garden Route has both the political and medical infrastructure needed to avoid further restrictions.

“With regards to the rising numbers of infections in the Garden Route area, we have full confidence in the preparation and capacity of the Western Cape Government to identify and contain any further outbreaks or hotspots as we go into this crucial holiday season.”

John Steenhuisen

A tale of two administrations:

Another factor behind the decision to spare the Garden Route – and punish NMB – is due to the way both administrations are run. The DA has governed in this region for years, whereas the makeshift council in Nelson Mandela Bay has been a source of political turmoil recently. The Blues argue that they are much better prepared to bring case numbers down.