Wearing face masks no longer a requirement in South Africa

Wearing face masks no longer a requirement in South Africa

South Africans are no longer required to wear face masks in public places. This follows the passage of the fifth wave of Covid-19 with relatively less carnage compared to previous waves of the virus and advice by the health department that Covid-19 restrictions should be dropped.

The Minister of Health, Dr Joseph Paahla, announced the repeal in a simple notice in the government gazette.

“I hereby repeal regulations section 16A, 16B and 16C of the regulations relating to the surveillance and control of notifiable medical conditions made in terms of section 90(1)(i), (k) and (w) of the National Health Act 2003 (Act 61 of 2003) and promulgated on 4 May 2022 under government notice 2060, in their entirety,” the notice said.

This government decision also means restrictions on gatherings and border entries have also been repealed.

The sections stated entailed the following:

Section 16A: “Wearing of face masks to contain the spread of Covid-19”, which required a mask in any public-use indoor space or when on public transport

Section 16B: “Regulation of gatherings to contain the spread of Covid-19”, which limited any gathering of more than 100 people to 50% of maximum venue capacity if everyone was vaccinated, or to an absolute maximum of 1,000 people indoors or 2,000 people outdoors if vaccination status was not checked.

Section 16C: “Regulation of persons entering the country to contain the spread of Covid-19”, which demanded either vaccination certificates or recent negative PCR tests, or proof of recovery from Covid-19, from all travellers older than 12 entering South Africa.

Phaahla is due to join the minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, for a press briefing on Thursday.

Face masks have been a feature of South African life for more than two years, first everywhere in public, then when not exercising or eating, and most recently only in public indoor spaces and on public transport. Now they are gone.