South Africa’s botanical gardens will once again be accessible to members of the public after being closed as part of a nationwide lockdown to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, the department of environment, forestry and fisheries said on Thursday.
It said reopening the gardens after four months would allow residents to once again enter them for exercise, adding that the access and use was subject to strict Covid-19 health protocols.
The department of environment, forestry and fisheries said no social gathering, picnics or public events would be allowed, although commercial facilities in the gardens, such as restaurants, had been allowed to open under ‘Level 3’ of South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown regulations, subject to prescribed regulations for the respective areas of business.
“Business conferences and meetings limited to 50 people, excluding those who participate via electronic platforms, may be allowed under controlled conditions outlined in government regulations that promote health protocols for such gatherings,” the department’s minister Barbara Creecy said.
Daily access to the botanical gardens will be monitored and limited once the safe carrying capacity for the area has been reached and all visitors will be required to wear cloth face masks, be temperature screened and complete a tracing register.
South Africa has 11 botanical gardens in eight of its nine provinces managed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), and each of them represents a variety of the country’s rich biodiversity.
Earlier this month, the SANBI said the Kirstenbosch Garden had been awarded ‘Level 4’ accreditation by the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Programme, the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta based on a set of professional standards.
Level 4 is the highest level and Kirstenbosch is currently one of 30 gardens with the accreditation out of 2,037 worldwide.
-ANA, Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa