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Wearing of masks in hands of individual

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After Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla announced that South Africans are no longer required to wear a mask indoors or outdoors, various sectors indicated on Thursday that the decision whether people want to continue wearing a face mask is now solely up to the individual.

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AS THE Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla announced that South Africans are no longer required to wear a mask indoors or outdoors, various sectors indicated that the decision whether people want to continue wearing a face mask is now solely up to the individual.

Phaahla, on Wednesday night, scrapped the mandatory regulation on the wearing of masks indoors and outdoors.

Some religious leaders in the city felt that the announcement from the minister was premature and that the winter season does not allow for such a decision.

Several religious leaders indicated that they are awaiting confirmation on the matter from their head offices and that they will leave the decision of whether people want to wear a mask up to the congregants.

“We have noted the announcement by the minister. However, we are awaiting a letter from the Bishop’s conference to pave the way forward. We will still continue with sanitising congregants and will advise them to wear a mask until we have received the letter,” the Vicar General of Kimberley Diocese, Father Victor Tlhole, said.

The Circuit Steward for the Centenary Methodist Church in the Diamond Filed Circuit, Themba Marintlhwane, said the announcement was premature.

“We feel this announcement is too early, especially since we are in winter. We will hear from our mother body, who will issue a statement on the matter. For now, we will continue to advise our congregants to wear masks. We welcome the announcement by the minister, but we are a church and not a political party. We will await feedback on the matter from our Presiding Bishop,” said Marintlhwane.

The chairperson of the International Federation for Christian Churches (IFCC) in the Northern Cape, Pastor Bryan Coetzee, said the regulation has been prolonged.

“We welcome the lifting of the regulation. It has prevented many people from attending church. We understand that people have been fearful and acknowledge that we are still in a pandemic, and people who still want to wear a mask in church will not be chased away. They can wear their masks.

“If you are concerned, you can wear your face mask and take your sanitiser with you to church. However, people have been responsible and the virus has been managed. As churches, we need to break the fearful mindset Covid-19 has brought on us. Covid-19 has robbed us of our faith, livelihood and praise,” said Coetzee.

The Northern Cape Department of Education spokesperson, Sydney Stander, indicated that the provincial department stands in unity with the Minister of Education, Angie Motshekga, who has said the wearing of masks is optional.

“In line with the regulation, the wearing of face masks by learners in the classroom and outdoor is no longer a requirement. Learners and staff who still wish to wear a face mask in school will be allowed to exercise that option,” said Motshekga.

Spokesperson for MediClinic Kimberley, Denise Coetzee said although face masks are no longer required, they will still impose other regulations.

“The regulation on hand washing and hand sanitising still stands. It has been a practice at our medical facilities that all our staff should wash their hands before and after they have attended to a patient. We will still sanitise visitors when they enter the facilities.

“Staff members who work with patients with respiratory illness will still be required to wear a face mask. Patients who may also suffer from a respiratory illness will be advised to wear a mask. However, patients and visitors will not be denied access if they still want to continue to wear a face mask,” said Coetzee.

The Northern Cape Department of Health spokesperson, Leboganag Majaha, said the provincial department aligned itself with the announcement of the minister.

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