COVID restrictions masks

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Image: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

No more masks? SA to drop ALL remaining COVID restrictions ‘within days’

The government is preparing to remove all remaining COVID restrictions ‘within the next 72 hours’ – with experts welcoming the proposals.

COVID restrictions masks

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Image: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

Some 27 months after South Africa first entered into a dreaded lockdown, it now looks like the nation is ready to ditch all of the remaining COVID restrictions that were kept AFTER the State of Disaster ended – meaning that the legal requirements to masks will soon be dropped.

Is this the end for COVID restrictions in South Africa?

The news signals a shift in priorities from the ANC government, which has come to terms with the fact that COVID is now an endemic disease. As exhibited by the most recent resurgence of the virus, no variant or sub-variant currently in circulation is capable of overwhelming our healthcare systems.

A letter – seemingly issued by Health Minister Joe Phaahla – was circulated on Monday. It notes that the threat of coronavirus has subsided in a substantial manner, and the NICD has been made aware of Cabinet’s intention to remove all COVID laws that are still in existence.

“We have been monitoring the epidemic, working with the NICD and current epidemiological analysis. The figures point towards lower infection rates, and that the country has exited a recent spike of infections.”

“Based on this, we now propose that regulations on mask wearing indoors, gathering limitations, and venue entry limitations no longer need to be in place at this present moment. The recommendations will be discussed with Cabinet in the next 48-72 hours.”

Joe Phaahla

Experts welcome proposals to drop laws on masks, gatherings

The move comes in the same week that trade union Solidariteit threatened legal action against the government, who decided to keep some COVID restrictions in place when the State of Disaster expired on 4 May 2022. However, it seems the ‘permanent rules’ won’t even last two months.

Shabir Madhi is a vaccinologist at Wits University, and he has served as one of the top experts on the virus since March 2020. He has welcomed the proposals with open arms, but the professor is still miffed by how long it took the Cabinet to ‘get to grips with reality’.

“At long last, the government is coming to grips with the reality. This is the effective end of COVID restrictions. Now to work on the collateral economic and other damage of what was self inflicted due to stubbornness of not following the science.”

Shabir Madhi