Mayor Newsletter: 11 January 2021
In mid-December there was eager anticipation for the holiday period in the Garden Route after enduring the Covid-19 pandemic for many months. We needed an economic boost for the tourism and business sectors so dependent on seasonal business.
At the same time, the second wave of Covid-19 was reaching its peak in George with active positive cases well above the first-wave peak but followed by a decline in numbers in the second half of December. Although healthcare workers were under severe pressure, thankfully they were managing. We saw increases in the numbers of persons who died, including municipal employees. Tragically, many of us now know someone who had have been ill or who have succumbed to the disease.
Suddenly from 15 December, after the announcement of the beach closures, there was a spate of cancellations of accommodation bookings. Many of our businesses rely on the core six-week December-January holiday season to generate 25-30% of their annual turnover which is usually crucial to support their overheads for the rest of the year.
In attempting to manage the financial effects of the pandemic we have become acutely aware of the delicate balance required between health and the effect on the economy. Without the benefit of good turnovers over the holiday period, further jobs could be lost as businesses find it tough in the coming year. As a result, it is likely that the George Municipality will experience a reduction in revenue and debtors’ collection.
The municipality is constantly looking to adapt how it conducts business safely with a hybrid model of working virtually and face-to-face. It is crucial that the health of employees and the public is considered. Our core services continue 24/7 and staff work around the clock to ensure the provision of water, sewerage and electricity, fire services, law enforcement, etc. We encourage our citizens to make use of available online methods of conducting business with the municipality where possible and is being communicated widely. Citizens are encouraged to download the George Municipality mobile application ( https://george.comunity.me ) to their phones which enables the receipt of important notifications.
On Monday 4 January 2021 we welcomed Dr Michele Gratz as Acting Municipal Manager (AMM) as well as Mr Allan Paulse as Acting Director: Community Services. Both are highly experienced administrators. The AMM has immediately commenced with measures that will improve workflow, efficiencies and use of resources and assets. Over the next few weeks and months, we can expect improvements in service delivery as processes are upgraded.
Please continue to keep safe by adopting the Covis-19 health protocols wherever you are. Every citizen needs to adhere to the protocols to ensure our safety.