FOR SA welcomes extension period for public comment on health regulations

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA), a non-profit Christian organsation working to protect and promote religious freedom in South Africa, has welcomed Health Minister Dr. Joe Phaahla’s announcement to extend the period for public comment on health regulations until July 5.

The Health Department says the extension is in line with statutory requirements and will afford the department sufficient time to go through and consider all comments and representations on the regulations.

The regulations which deal with outbreaks of infectious diseases have come under fire from various organisations, with some indicating they will go to court if the regulations become law.

Executive Director FOR SA, Michael Swain says, “We welcome it. One of the major concerns we had was that there was so little time given for comment on something will literally impact in every impact of our lives potentially.”

“So we certainly do welcome the extended time for comment. it’s interesting that already even at the shut-off date if you estimate emails that would have been sent directly to the department that possibly up to 350 000 maybe 400 000 should have been received by the minister so there is clearly some concern about this issue.”

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has also welcomed Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla’s announcement to extend the period for public comment on health regulations to July 5th.

“We should have such regulations in place especially after lifting the national disaster management process, but also making sure that we go back to our legislation. And with the regulations though, I think you’ve heard many of us complaining, including SAMA. We have complained to the department that the time allocated for the submissions [was] really limited,” says SAMA chairperson Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa.

Wearing of masks

The Department has sought to explain what groups have been exempted from wearing masks. It has been announced that learners at both primary and high schools are no longer required to wear a face mask, however, the rest of the members of the public are required to wear masks indoors.

The department’s Deputy Director-General Doctor Nicholas Crisp says various inputs were received.

“At schools, the section relating to gatherings says that it does not apply to gatherings at schools. There was quite a lot of debate about whether it would be only primary schools or all educational institutions and how to define it, but looking at all the comments that we got and all the various inputs that were received, it was decided that it would apply to basic education schools, so primary and high schools,” says Crisp.

VIDEO: Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla says It would be irresponsible to drop all COVID-19 regulations: