Many in the province are eagerly looking forward to watching the United Rugby Championship final, this Saturday, between the Stormers and Bulls at Cape Town Stadium. Sadly, the number of people who can attend in person remains capped by unnecessary Covid-19 restrictions.
The Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, said: “While I will certainly be cheering on the Stormers this weekend, I am deeply concerned that an event such as this, which creates significant economic activity in our province, is not able to operate at its full capacity. It is high time that we do away with all Covid-19 restrictions as they serve only to undermine our hospitality and tourism sectors and derail private sector-led job creation.”
At present, only 50% of tickets are allowed to be sold in terms of the existing Covid-19 restrictions. The total capacity of Cape Town Stadium is 55 000, which means that ticket sales are limited to just 27 500 people. “That is why I am reiterating my call to President Ramaphosa to convene an urgent President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) ahead of the United Rugby Championship final,” added Premier Winde.
The Provincial Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais, added: “Sports tourism is an important contributor to our local economy. With large upcoming rugby matches, and particularly the upcoming Rugby World Cup sevens events, we must open our stadiums to full capacity. It is important not only for the recovery of the local economy but for our local people to feel a sense of connectivity and unity through sport.”
During 2019/2020, the Western Cape Government’s official travel, trade, and investment promotion agency, Wesgro, supported 39 regional events made up of leisure and sporting activities. These activities created temporary work for 4007 people. The economic impact, based on a daily spend of R910, was R208 million.
The Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger, elaborated: “There is no doubt that sports and events in the Western Cape have the potential to drive the visitor economy, create work, and drive much-needed geographic spread. It is now time that all remaining restrictions on events be lifted, so we can leverage the great potential of this sector to contribute to the economy and job creation.”
On 27 May and again on 7 June 2022, Premier Winde wrote to the President calling for an urgent PCC to table the province’s latest data in support of the complete removal of the remaining Covid-19 restrictions and do away with all Covid-19 restrictions on mask-wearing and gatherings. No meeting has since been called, despite follow-ups having been sent.
“I have made this call to the President, and will continue to do so, because we can now safely and fully reopen our economy. This is because there has been a continued decoupling between Covid-19 infections and severe illness,” explained Premier Winde.
Premier Winde concluded: “Sports tourism is a critical part of our economy and facilitates job creation, but the Covid-19 restrictions are blocking conventions, religious gatherings, theatres, tourist arrivals, and economic decisions. Our competition around the world is more agile than us and I really would have expected by now that these decisions be made quickly. We have horrendous unemployment levels in our country and by lifting these restrictions we will immediately enable thousands of jobs.”