South Africa’s Health Minister Joe Phaahla has recommended scrapping the country’s remaining coronavirus-related restrictions.
These include the wearing of masks and curbs on muster sizes. Phaahla made the proposals following declining hospitalizations and reported cases, according to a statement dated June 20. The cabinet will discuss the proposals in the coming days, he told Bloomberg.
Phaahla’s comments after the minister asked provincial health authorities for their advice on whether South Africa should repeal its Covid-19 regulations. It is a statutory requirement that these consultations take place before regulations are enacted or withdrawn.
Specific restrictions that will be discussed as part of the consultations include:
- Wearing the mask no longer needs to be in place;
- Restrictions on gatherings are no longer necessary;
- Entry restrictions (Covid certificate) should no longer be in place at certain sites.
Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has already welcomed the move to disposal restrictions and said the decision is long overdue.
“I call on all MECs, the National Cabinet and the President to support Minister Phaahla’s recommendations and implement them without further delay. This is also the case that I will make in the meeting of the President’s Coordination Council (PCC) tomorrow.
“The country is clearly out of the fifth wave of infections. On top of that, death and hospitalization rates during the January and May waves were significantly lower than previous ones, even though the majority of restrictions had already been lifted.
He added that the decision to continue to restrict the freedom of South Africans to decide for themselves to wear masks and to restrict their participation in large gatherings is not rationally linked to saving lives, and therefore unjustified.
“The remaining restrictions also disproportionately and unfairly affect certain groups in society, including young schoolchildren and ordinary salaried workers.
“While restaurant customers are free to unmask to enjoy a meal comfortably, for example, wait and kitchen staff are forced to be masked for up to twelve hours at a time. Children as young as seven years old are forcibly subjected to the discomfort of masking all day, often while school management are comfortably maskless in school administrative offices.
“It’s time to move on from irrational Covid-19 restrictions and state control over the private aspects of our lives in the interest of containing a disease whose threat to human life has dramatically diminished.”
With further reports from Bloomberg.
Read: South Africa seeks to lift Covid restrictions – including end to face masks