Cape Town cancels annual festive lights switch-on due to Covid-19

'Austerity' and rules around public gatherings led to the decision, officials said

General views during the Cape Town's festive lights switch-on concert at the Grand Parade on December 2 2018 in Cape Town South Africa.
General views during the Cape Town's festive lights switch-on concert at the Grand Parade on December 2 2018 in Cape Town South Africa.
Image: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Jaco Marais

The City of Cape Town has cancelled its annual festive lights switch-on event for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the city, the event draws a crowd of about 100,000 people annually and sets the tone for Cape Town’s festive season.

“In light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the extension of the National Disaster Management Act restrictions on the number of people allowed at public gatherings, it was important to pause the event for the safety of all those who would be involved in the concert,” the city said in a statement.

“Additionally, it was important for the city to take into consideration the need for austerity, given the adverse impact the pandemic and subsequent lockdown has had on the economy.”

The city said it was instead considering hosting several smaller events as part of the Cape Town CBD revitalisation programme, the first of which was set to take place at the Greenmarket Square this week.

“These events will be organised in line with the national lockdown restrictions and with the health and safety protocols in place.

“We are also in discussion with various event organisers to bring their events to the CBD,” said the city.

It said events had over the years been a major catalyst in the growth of auxiliary sectors such as hospitality, retail and tourism as people spent money in the city.

“Over the last seven months, the events industry has however seen a downturn and job losses due to regulations, and as the city we have to assist in arresting this decline by supporting event organisers as much as we can to ensure that the sector remains afloat.

“This is critical for thousands of people who rely on this industry to feed their families.”

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