News of the Mother City Drive-in opening caused a stir back in May. Since then, they faced many challenges which prevented them from officially opening to the public, and those who purchased tickets in anticipation of a new experience are not happy. New developments may put this exciting service back on track to open soon.

Plans to open the Cape’s biggest outdoor LED screen at Grand West in September were shut down at the last minute due to issues with local authorities, this meant they were unable to receive an events permit.

“After hundreds of hours spent trying to satisfy authorities, ministers, event bodies and the NCC on our drive-in concept, through appeals both heartfelt and legal, we are still unable to get the final consent required to proceed in a legal way,” organisers explained to patrons in an email.

“We feel we have more then satisfied all the requirements put to us by authorities but unfortunately they are unwilling to budge until certain COVID-19 restrictions are lifted further. We had begun building the site under the impression we would be allowed to proceed since we had responded to every request in a timeously and thorough manner, only to be denied time after time.

“We therefore regret to inform you that we have no choice but to postpone our launch until regulations allow for such event permits to be granted.”

The Mother City Drive-In’s Lyle Masters explained that this is an initiative they have been “fighting tooth and nail to launch”, one that has also been incredibly costly and time consuming.

Permission must be granted nationally, and the lockdown levels do not technically cover drive-in events which means there is no system in place to monitor them at the moment.

Many customers have been upset by this regression and have requested refunds. According to Masters, their policy has always been that there are no refunds. He apologises for the long wait, and hopes patrons will continue to support them as they work to get this initiative off the ground and create jobs for many in the events and entertainment industry.

“We have sent out numerous emails updating ticket voucher holders with updates and we respond accordingly. When we originally launched ticket vouchers on Webtickets we made it quite clear that there was no date or venue secured but we are working tirelessly to get the events up and running soon! In addition we made it quite clear on the ticket link that there are no refunds.”

Other drive-ins have been operating for the last few months but the City has not officially issued permits to any of these operators, meaning they are technically operating illegally.

“We are aware other operators are open and the city has informed us that they have in fact not issued permits to said operators, we cannot in good conscious go ahead illegally without the cooperation of the city as your safety and wellbeing is of utmost importance to us,” said Masters.

Masters is cautiously optimistic over the future of the Mother City Drive-In thanks to recent developments. The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture recently met with the South African Communication Industries Association (SACIA) to discuss how the sector may resume its economic activities.

During the meeting, SACIA presented stringent safety measures and protocols they have put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at events organised by any of their affiliated member organisations.  The measures include:

– the prohibition of the consumption of alcohol at events with over 300 participants, and a further safety plan for 1000 participants (drive-ins) for the Departments’ consideration

– using technology such as electronic capacity monitoring systems to track how many participants are at events at any given time

– a change in regulations on the number of participants at events to take into consideration the size / area or total capacity of venues and not the current 50 participants’ restriction, as this does not ensure that safety protocols of social distancing are respected

Following this meeting, the City’s mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith released a statement saying the City is in support of launching drive-in events.

“We have noted the recent media statement by Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa in relation to mass participation events. We understand that the national department is also considering safety plans for drive-in events with 1000 participants,” said Smith.

“It is in this regard that we have written to the national department requesting that the City of Cape Town be allowed to host a drive-in event to showcase the proof of concept for such future events.”

“The City, through its Events Coordination Committee (ECC), has drawn up a standard operating document to be used as a guide for event organisers as part of the permit application process. These are in line with the Disaster Management Act and National Health directives.

“There is a major focus on a contactless environment, strict health and safety protocols for all events to ensure the safety of participants, staff, service providers and patrons as a top priority,” said Smith.

Picture: Unsplash

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