national health act mask masks state of disaster

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Remove the mask! Face coverings ‘no longer required’… in these places

You can take your mask off – but don’t throw it away just yet. The rules around mandatory face coverings in public are changing this week.

national health act mask masks state of disaster

Photo: Unsplash

While some laws regarding face coverings will be with us for some time to come, the requirement to wear a mask in most public spaces be dropped from Wednesday 23 March. However, a number restrictions will still be with us, even once the State of Disaster concludes.

What will the new mask-wearing rules be AFTER the State of Disaster ends?

President Ramaphosa revealed that outdoor mask-wearing rules are set for the dustbin, allowing South Africans to move freely without obscuring their faces – providing they are not indoors.

The relaxation of the mask rules will certainly be welcomed by many, but the decision to keep some measures in place is still likely to cause controversy. Face coverings will be requested for cramped indoor spaces, and events held inside certain locations. The worst of COVID-19 may be gone, but its impact has not been forgotten.

Where do we go from here? Mask policy set to change

Speaking on Tuesday night during a family meeting, President Ramaphosa prepared South Africa for its life after lockdown. When the State of Disaster laws expire, it will be the first time since March 2020 that Mzansi has not been subjected to emergency protocols. The National Health Act will eventually regulate our COVID-19 policies.

The middle of April is the EARLIEST the State of Disaster can lapse.

There was no balance Ramaphosa could strike that would please everyone in SA, and the president will argue he’s done what he can to look out for both lives and livelihoods. With South Africa recording a relatively low vaccine take-up when compared to the global west, other measures have been considered.

Where will face coverings still be required?

Social distancing, hand hygiene, and restrictions on gatherings will stay with us – but laws surrounding all three will ease significantly when the State of Disaster is no more. Ramaphosa went on to explain his mask-wearing decision.

“A mask is not required when one is outdoors. Masks are still required in taxes, buses, malls, factories but not needed when walking on the streets or pathways, when you’re outside exercising, or attending any outdoor gathering.”

Cyril Ramaphosa