South Africa outlaws outdoor wearing of masks

SOUTH Africa President, Cyril Ramaphosa has made significant changes to his country’s COVID-19 regulations, undoing the outdoor wearing of masks.

By Staff Reporter

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced these changes on Tuesday in a televised statement on progress in national efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

As before, it is mandatory to wear a cloth mask or similar covering over the nose and mouthwhen in public indoor spaces. However, a mask is not required when outdoors. This means that we still need to wear masks when in shops, malls, offices, factories, taxes, buses, trains or any other indoor public space. But we do not need to wear masks when walking on the street or in an open space, when exercising outdoors or when attending an outdoor gathering,” he said.

He said COVID-19 in South Africa will be disregarded as a National State of Disaster.

“Due to the changing nature of the pandemic, and due to the progress that has been made through our collective efforts, we intend to lift the National State of Disaster as soon as public comment on the health regulations published by the Minister of health has been completed.

“These regulations, when finalised, will replace the State of Disaster regulations as the legal instrument that we use to manage the pandemic. All South Africans are invited to make comments on the draft regulations before the 16th of April. What should be clear is that the end of the National State of Disaster does not mean the end of the pandemic.
It just means that we are changing the way we manage the pandemic, and we will be relying on health regulations rather than disaster management regulations.

“It means that we are learning to live with the virus in our presence. It means that we are returning, as far as possible, to the lives that we lived before the pandemic,” President Ramaphosa said.

Here are the COVID-19 restrictions that will remain in place with effect from Wednesday, 23 March 2022.

Mask-wearing: Although no one will be asked to wear a face-covering outdoors, they are still needed in public indoor settings – such as shops, malls, offices, or onboard public transport.

Social distancing: In some indoor settings and mass gatherings, physical distancing will remain – but it has been reduced from 1.5 metres to 1 metre.

Funeral measures: Maximum limits of 200 people in attendance, night-vigils/after-tears also banned.

Gatherings and stadium/arena limits: Big venues will only be allowed to operate at 50% capacity. People will have to provide a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination. A maximum of 2 000 people will be allowed to gather at places that have no facilities to check these factors.

Vaccination requirements: Venues for mass gatherings and selected indoor spaces will be given the power to only allow vaccinated citizens in. PCR tests for travel will also be dropped for the vaccinated – but not for the unvaccinated.

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