Addressing the nation, the Honourable President Mr Cyril Ramaphosa announced a nation-wide lockdown following the escalation of Covid-19 pandemic cases in the country. St Lucia has also recorded its first confirmed positive cases of Coronavirus from a group of six tourists visiting from France. The President’s announcement of a nation-wide lockdown necessitates that we step up our plans in line with the directive from Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Barbara Creecy, as well as the MEC of KZN Economic Development, Tourism and Environment Affairs, Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube. As a result, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority has revised and submitted its Contingency Plan for Covid-19 to the Ministerial caucus.
The Chief Executive Officer of iSimangaliso, Mr Sibusiso Bukhosini, has subsequently announced the following directive:
1. Isolation, Maintaining and Containing Coronavirus
1.1. That a count of all tourists coming from high-risk countries who are currently within the Park be conducted. Once numbers have been established, they must be isolated and minimise contact whilst their status is being confirmed. No one must be allowed to move from the current establishments where they are booked inside the Park. The Covid-19 hotline number is 0800 029 999 – iSimangaliso needs to be notified immediately so that we can contact their embassy for protocol.
1.2. All iSimangaliso gates to the park have been closed and guests who are not coming from high-risk countries are encouraged to reschedule their holiday once the situation has normalised. Those who are already in the Park must vacate the Park immediately.
1.3. All tourists’ activities are suspended in the Park.
List of the high-risk countries from which travellers will be quarantined and may be subjected to testing if found within the Park:
- United States of America
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
According to the travel regulations, travellers from medium-risk countries listed below are also subject to intense health screening:
- Hong Kong
2. National Lockdown Directive (midnight 26 March until midnight 16 April 2020)
2.1. iSimangaliso Wetland Park will be on a 21 day lockdown as from midnight Thursday 26 March 2020.
2.2. All tourist activities are henceforth suspended as from midnight Thursday 26th of March 2020 until further notice.
2.3. All Park gates will be closed for the duration of the lockdown and this will be strictly enforced. No staff or residents’ visitors will be allowed except for emergencies and law enforcement operations.
2.4. Security personnel will be deployed at the gates and only the Executive Manager of Tourism and Business Development and the Chief Executive Officer will authorize entry or exit during the lockdown as stated above.
2.5. Scheduled trips for food supplies for those residing inside the Park must be arranged 2 days in advance. This will be strictly enforced.
2.6. Only essential services will be allowed to operate – including the iSimangaliso task team, anti-poaching unit, field rangers and water provision services as per the directive.
2.7. The Department of Tourism has made an additional R200 million available to assist SMMEs in the tourism and hospitality sector who are under stress due to the new travel restrictions. For assistance visit www.smmesa.gov.za and follow directives.
2.8. We care and have deep interest for our concessionaires, tourist and all our stakeholders. Therefore all concessionaires will be engaged and assisted where possible when the situation is back to normal.
In the Biodiversity Conservation set up, the species that survive through adaptation, changing their food sources and developing new tools of trade in an uncompromising environment set the stage for a new generation.
Your continued support in Tourism issues during these trying times within iSimangaliso Wetland Park is forever appreciated.
Media enquiries should be directed to Bheki Manzini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 060 533 2082.