BRIEF: Court challenge over beach closures

Government’s decision to close beaches along the Garden Route this week was welcomed by some as a necessary measure to stop the spread of Covid-19, after the area was declared an infection hotspot. But a group of businessmen from the Garden Route are taking the government to court over the decision.

Local business owners say the economic impact of the beach closures will be severe. Garden Route municipality mayor Memory Booysen said the tourism industry felt the impact within hours of the announcement. News24 reported that Knysna’s accommodation sector lost 80% of bookings, and Plettenberg Bay is expected to lose about R200m in revenue from tourism. 

The town and businesses were ready for the holiday visitors, and had put all precautions in place to avoid the spread of Covid, News24 reported.

The business owners will ask the court to decide whether the government based its decision on scientific evidence – much like the controversial tobacco ban. This week, a court found it had not been based on scientific evidence.

The Garden Route case will be another important way to test whether the government is using science when making these far-reaching decisions.

This brief was originally published in The Wrap here.

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