‘Long Street unfairly targeted’ business owners claim

Long Street Cape Town Source: Google Images

As some crowds headed back to Long Street for drinks and lively evenings this weekend, a tight balancing act is emerging between reviving the local industry and keeping everyone safe.

This comes as the number of active Covid-19 cases in the province continues to grow. In a 24-hour period this week, the number of active cases went up by 288.

Premier Alan Winde has called for “responsible citizens and responsible businesses”.

This past Friday, some CBD venues were quiet but at others, large crowds of people gathered. It’s a problem that has caught Winde’s attention.

“I do see regularly over weekends, people sending me photographs of nightlife places where you see people letting their hair down,” he said.

Winde’s comments come as South Africa continues to see upward trends in Covid-19 infections nationally, spurring concerns of a second wave of the pandemic.

Crowds of up to 20 and 30 people could be observed outside venues like Sneaker Cartel, and Yours Truly on Kloof Street, not adhering to social distancing and a number not wearing masks.

Winde said: “We need responsible citizens and responsible businesses.

“If your business becomes a superspreader, it’s not good for business. The citizens must be responsible.

“There’s nothing wrong with crowding outside a venue, but make sure you are social distancing. Wear your mask, keep your hands clean.”

The safety of hospitality venues was also thrown into the spotlight two weeks ago after a total of 113 infections in Cape Town, a portion of which were matriculants, were traced back to an alleged “superspreader” event at the Tin Roof bar in Claremont.

Bar owner James Truter denied the claims his venue was responsible for the outbreak and that all health and safety protocols were being followed.

Winde said while “bush fires”, referring to localised infections across the province, were being dealt with, a new trend had developed.

“The concerning item is the age of people becoming positive is a younger cohort. It started three and a half weeks ago, we started to see a resurgence.”

Tasso Evangelinos, chief executive of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) said the organisation had noticed some mass gatherings in Long Street, but the responsibility of Covid-19 compliance monitoring lay with SAPS and city law enforcement.

“We have noticed that there have been some gatherings outside retail and entertainment venues, but they have not been serious transgressions,” Evangelinos said.

“Most visitors to the CBD wear masks and adhere to Covid-19 protocols including social distancing.

“However, we have noticed transgressions outside government offices, such as the long queues outside SARS and Home Affairs where there is no queue management and very little social distancing taking place.”

Randolph Jorberg, chairperson of the Long Street Association and owner of the Beerhouse, said while trade continued, his establishment along with many others were facing shortfalls.

“We are being as compliant as we can and we do not deserve to be in the spotlight.”