Home South African Masks remain: Government’s new Covid-19 regulations unpacked

Masks remain: Government’s new Covid-19 regulations unpacked

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Department of health has gazetted limited regulations for implementation with effect from Thursday, making it compulsory to wear masks indoors in South Africa except for children in schools.

Department of health has gazetted limited regulations for implementation with effect from today, making it compulsory to wear masks indoors in South Africa except for children in schools. File Picture

AS THE 30-day extension of Covid-19 regulations expired on Wednesday at midnight, the National Department of Health has gazetted limited regulations for implementation with effect from Thursday, making it compulsory to wear masks indoors in South Africa, except for children in schools.

“With regards to wearing a face mask, a person must, when entering and being inside an indoor public place, wear a face mask. This does not apply to children at school. Again, under these limited regulations, no person may use any form of public transport unless wearing a face mask,” said Department of Health spokesperson, Foster Mohale.

“For any indoor and outdoor gatherings, a maximum of 50 percent of the venue capacity may be occupied provided that every attendee must be vaccinated against Covid-19 and produce a valid vaccination certificate. Alternatively, attendees must produce a valid negative Covid-19 test result not older than 72 hours prior to the date of the gathering.”

Gatherings are defined as planned assembly or meeting at a particular venue involving more than one hundred persons, according to the health department.

“If complying with this indoor gathering requirement is not possible, then attendance shall be limited to 1,000 people or 50 percent of the capacity, whichever is smaller, while the attendance at an outdoor gathering shall be limited to 2,000 people or 50 percent of the capacity, whichever is smaller,” said Mohale.

South Africa’s National State of Disaster on Covid-19 was ended by President Cyril Ramaphosa last month. The previous regulations which governed the wearing of masks were imposed by government under the now dismantled National State of Disaster, before they were temporarily extended.

All international travellers arriving at South Africa’s numerous ports of entry must be vaccinated against Covid-19 and produce a valid vaccination certificate; or produce a valid negative PCR Covid-19 test result not older than 72 hours before the date of departure.

“Alternatively, travellers have another option of producing a valid negative antigen Covid-19 test result performed by a medical practitioner, registered public health authority or accredited/approved laboratory obtained not older than 48 hours before the date of departure,” said Mohale.

In a case where an international traveller is unable to produce a vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test result older than 72 hours or a negative antigen test result obtained at least 48 hours prior departure, the Health Department said the traveller must then undergo an antigen testing at the port of entry.

“If the person tests positive for Covid-19 in the antigen test, the traveller will still be admitted into the country but, if the traveller is experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, they must self-isolate a period of ten days after admission into South Africa,” said Mohale.

However, the vaccination or testing requirement is not applicable to travellers who are under the age of 12 years and daily commuters from neighbouring countries.

The Department of Health emphasised that proposed amendments to the Health Regulations do not amend the National Health Act, 2003 but rather augment certain existing regulations.

Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla has extended the period for public comments on health regulations relating to the Surveillance and Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions; Public Measures in Points of Entry; Management of Human Remains and Environmental Health by three months with effect from Thursday.

“The new closing date for submission of comments is 5th of July 2022, and this extension is in line with statutory requirements and will afford the department sufficient time to go through and consider all comments and representations on the regulations,” said Mohale.

Comments must be sent only to this e-mail: [email protected] on or before the expiry of three (3) months period from the date of publication.

“All members of the public who submitted comments in the initial public consultation process do not need to resubmit these comments as all comments already submitted will be considered as part of this process,” Mohale added.

“In order to ensure that there is no gap in terms of legal instruments to contain the spread of Covid-19 and future notifiable medical conditions, the Department has Gazetted the limited regulations for implementation with effect from Thursday, 05 May 2022.”

These regulations mainly focus on wearing of face masks, gatherings and persons entering the country.

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