Government looking to lift Covid-19 restrictions including end to face masks.
By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
The government is co nsidering lifting remaining Covid restrictions as cases in the country continue to remain flat.
In a letter published on social media, health minister Joe Phaahla has asked provincial health authorities for their views on whether South Africa should repeal its Covid-19 regulations.
The department of health has confirmed the legitimacy of the letter, noting that is a statutory requirement that such consultations take place before regulations are promulgated or withdrawn.
Specific restrictions which will be discussed as part of the consultations include:
-Mask-wearing no longer needs to be in place;
-Restrictions on gatherings are no longer necessary;
-Entry limitations (Covid certificate) no longer need to be in place at certain venues.
Mask rules are being eased globally, in many parts of Europe and the US. And Bloomberg reported that the European Union is relaxing its guidance for mask-wearing on flights as many airlines have already abandoned those rules with Covid-19 concerns easing.
While South Africa has ended its national state of disaster, a number of regulations remain on gatherings and mask-wearing.
The current regulations, introduced at the start of May, include the following:
Some of the key regulations around masks which remain in effect include:
The wearing of a face mask is mandatory for every person when in an indoor public place – including public transport.
The health minister has the power to lift regulations around masks when he deems they are no longer necessary.
All gatherings are permitted at 50% of the venue capacity:
Provided persons are fully vaccinated and in possession of a valid vaccination certificate; or
Unvaccinated but in possession of a valid certificate of a negative Covid-19 which was obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of the gathering,.
Alternatively, gatherings are permitted for the unvaccinated and those without tests but are limited to 1,000 persons or fewer for indoor venues and 2,000 persons or fewer for outdoor venues.
If the venue is too small to hold the prescribed number of persons observing a distance of at least one metre from each other, then not more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used, subject to strict adherence to all health protocols and social distancing measures.
Travel into South Africa is permitted provided:
Fully vaccinated people must, upon arrival at the land border, produce a valid vaccination certificate; and
Unvaccinated people must, upon arrival, provide a valid certificate of a negative Covid-19 test, recognised by the World Health Organisation, which was obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel. They may also produce a negative antigen test provided it was not taken 48 hours before travel, or a certificate showing they have tested positive for Covid within the last 90 days.
Outbound travellers from South Africa must continue to comply with the requirements of the country of destination.