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Cape Town’s iconic festive lights event cancelled due to COVID-19

The iconic free, open-air concert draws a crowd of about 100,000 revellers to the Cape Town CBD every year and sets the tone for festive season celebrations.

FILE: The City of Cape Town's annual festive lights switch on on 3 December 2017. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The City of Cape Town (CoCT) has cancelled the annual Festive Lights Switch-on Event for 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The iconic free, open-air concert draws a crowd of about 100,000 revellers to the Cape Town CBD every year and sets the tone for festive season celebrations.

However, the CoCT said there were plans for events that would help boost the economy, especially for local businesses.

The city said it was important to pause the event for the safety of all involved in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the extension of the National Disaster Management Act restrictions impacting the number of people allowed at public gatherings.

“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,” said JP Smith, the Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security in a statement on Sunday.

“The Festive Lights Switch-on is the city’s signature event, which has helped usher in the joyous season for five decades while also providing entertainment for locals and tourists.”

Smith said, however, there was a silver lining one that would help revitalise the economy.

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

He said these events would be organised in line with the national lockdown restrictions and with all health and safety protocols in place.

“We are also in discussion with various event organisers to bring their events to the CBD. As the City of Cape Town, we believe events will be central in revitalising the economy going forward.”

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