Outdoor enthusiasts now have something to smile about as hunting, self-drive visits to private or public game reserves and national parks, as well as recreational fishing is now permitted under lockdown level 3.
The directions that guide marine and freshwater fisheries, forestry and biodiversity sectors, have since been gazetted in terms of the Disaster Management Regulations published on 29 April.
“Self-drive excursions in public and private game reserves are permitted,” said Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy.
The Department said SANParks, the body responsible for managing South Africa's national parks, will publish a list of access-controlled parks that will be opened to visitors in the coming days.
The national parks' visitors are advised to book and pay online before going on a game drive.
The Minister said the iSimangaliso Wetland Park would be getting the park ready for visitors.
“Besides staff returning to work, deep cleaning of the offices and public facilities have started. Additional work will be done by rangers and conservationists, including cutting back of trees and removing logs from roads.”
She said once compliance requirements are met and the park has been declared safe for visitors, the public will be given seven days’ notice of its reopening for self-drive excursions.
“While we understand that many nature lovers are keen to get back to our national parks and game reserves, it would be prudent to wait until the relevant authorities are comfortable with their state of preparedness to welcome visitors.
“All the usual protocols concerning social distancing, hand-sanitising and wearing of masks will apply at all times," Creecy stressed.
Meanwhile, all fishing, including recreational fishing, is now allowed except for charter fishing and fishers must ensure that they have a valid permit.
“All regulations relating to social distancing, health protocols, movement and the prohibition of groups and gatherings apply,” Creecy added.
Wildlife auction, subsistence hunting, imports, and exports
Also, online wildlife auctions are now allowed and if not possible, live auctions can also take place only comprising not more than 50 people.
Subsistence hunting for food with the necessary permits is also now open.
The import and export of live or dead plant or animal specimens or products will also be allowed subject to directions issued by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition.
The directions also deal with the processing of applications for Environmental Authorisations required in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), as well as the handling of applications for waste management licences, permits linked to the export of waste tyres, and applications for Atmospheric Emission Licences in terms of the Air Quality Act.
“Appeals lodged in terms of NEMA will be dealt with,” the department said.
Further leeway has been granted on the timeframes for permits that had already been extended at the end of March, the statement said.
“The extension is now granted until further notice. However, where pending permitting processes now resume, the relevant prescribed timeframes that applied on 27 March has been extended by an additional 21 days.”
She said authorisations for the export of waste tyres, which expired between 27 March and 29 April, remain valid subject to new applications being submitted within 60 days.
“The applications and appeals mentioned will be processed by the responsible authorities from the date of publication of the directions. Further details on how to access the service, and submit applications and appeals will be provided in the annexures to the alert level 3 directions.”
Also, 100% of the recycling sector is allowed to operate.
“More details on the directions are contained in the Government Gazette that will be published this week and we recommend that members of the public await the publication of these directions.”