Section 39 of the Level 3 lockdown regulations specifically names numerous places and premises, including beaches and public parks, which are closed to the public. Remembering that the purpose of the lockdown regulations is to prevent the spread of COVID-19, this was presumably done under Level 5 because of how popular and busy beaches and public parks are, making it easier to spread the virus.
But under Level 3, there is greater freedom of movement and people can exercise anywhere else from 6 am to 6 pm. All forms of exercise are now permissible, raising the question as to whether surfing is now allowed but a surfer still cannot cross the beach.
A recent Gauteng judgment already pointed out how irrational it was that numerous people can exercise on the promenade, but cannot set a single foot on the beach. The judgment ordered the regulations be fixed, but the government is appealing it instead. The critical question seems to be this: if people can already be arrested for gathering in groups, failing to wear a mask in public or failing to practice safe social distancing, why can’t we lift the ban on beaches and public parks? Why can’t people be allowed a moment to relax if they are following all the safety precautions?
The size of beaches and public parks already make it easier for people to distance themselves from one another, certainly more than other permissible situations under Level 3 like public transport, attending church or flying domestically for work. It certainly seems like the complete ban on beaches and public parks is irrational.
Author – Murray Taylor