The COVID-19 pandemic heralded changes aplenty for Nelson Mandela Bay. Now, the traditional New Year’s celebrations in the metro is another victim of the new normal.
Party plans were upended this week when Level 3 lockdown regulations were brought back into force in the drive to stem the second wave of the virus.
The metro was one of the first municipalities to be declared a hotspot when the infection rate shot up a second time.
The ‘midnight fireworks’ is a Port Elizabeth institution. The spectacle was always backed up by huge beach parties.
But the recklessness will make way for a laid-back entrance into the New Year.
When the clock strikes midnight, the beaches and streets will be empty – a necessary change to save lives.
Residents of Port Elizabeth are feeling it.
“Well, what can I do? I will be home doing absolutely nothing like I should. This is what the country needs at this moment to ensure the safety of all,” says one resident.
But some are not as understanding.
“I am not happy. This is not good. I planned to come to the beach but now I must stay at home and do absolutely nothing. I hate it.”
“Well, I normally light candles anyway on New Year’s eve, praying for a better year. It has been a tradition for my family and so, that is exactly what I will do. I will be indoors with my family praying and hoping for a better 2021.”
The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro’s Head of Communications, Princess Tobin-Diouf, says this year is most definitely different, but it is not all doom and gloom.
“We have a festival lineup and shows like eBubeleni which are our annual shows. You can catch those on TV. They will be taking you through to 2021. This is forcing us to a changed behaviour. People need to be vigilant and take care of their health. We also have an app that you can visit where you will get alternative activities to do.”
This year is unlike any other as the beaches lie empty during the best summer days.
COVID-19 has already claimed 27 000 lives in South Africa and the enforced change in behaviour is there to save lives.
In Nelson Mandela Bay, people are also asked to light a candle for the departed, just like president Cyril Ramaphosa requested.