The National Department of Health has announced that learners at both Primary and High schools are no longer required to wear a face mask.
The announcement was made late Thursday night, as the restrictions imposed under the national state of disaster were due to expire at midnight.
The Department has sought to explain what groups have been exempted from wearing masks. It has 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 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.
Under the limited regulations that the Health Department has announced with effect from Thursday, the public is still required to wear masks indoors.
Video: Dr Nicholas Crisp speaks to SABC News about COVID-19 regulation
The Health Department made the announcement on Wednesday night as the previous remaining restrictions, initially imposed under the national state of disaster expired at midnight.
“A person must, when entering and being inside an indoor public place, wear a face mask. This does not apply to children at school. Again, under these limited regulations, no person may use any form of public transport unless wearing a face mask. Gatherings are more clearly defined as planned assembly or meeting at a particular venue involving more than one hundred persons.” notes the Department.
Capacity, vaccination and valid negative COVID-19 test result
The department also clarified issues relating to capacity, vaccination and COVID19 test results.
“For any indoor and outdoor gatherings, a maximum of 50% of the venue capacity may be occupied provided that every attendee must be vaccinated against COVID-19 and produce a valid vaccination certificate. Alternatively, attendees must produce a valid negative COVID-19 test result not older than 72 hours prior to the date of the gathering. If complying with this indoor gathering requirement is not possible, then attendance shall be limited to 1000 people or 50% of the capacity or less, ”notes the Department.
Extension for public comment
The department has also extended the period for public comment on health regulations to July the 5th. The extension is in line with statutory requirements and will afford the department sufficient time to consider all comments and representations on the regulations. Department spokesperson, Foster Mohale.
All international travelers arriving at South African Ports of Entry must be vaccinated against COVID-19 and produce a valid vaccination certificate, or a valid negative PCR COVID-19 test result that’s not older than 72 hours.
The Health Department gazetted this late on Wednesday night in line with the limited regulations that are effective on Thursday.
The Health Minister Doctor Joe Phaahla made the announcement as the previous temporary regulations expired at midnight.
“All international travelers except children under the age of 12, arriving at South African Ports of Entry must be vaccinated against COVID-19 and produce a valid vaccination certificate; or produce a valid negative PCR COVID-19 test result not older than 72 hours before the date of departure. Alternatively, travelers have another option of producing a valid negative antigen COVID-19 test result performed by a medical practitioner, registered public health authority or accredited/approved laboratory obtained not older than 48 hours before the date of departure” added Mohale.
Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla says It would be irresponsible to drop all COVID-19 regulations [14 April 2022]
SA Medical Association welcomes extension for public comment on health regulations
The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has welcomed Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla’s announcement to extend the period for public comment on health regulations to July 5th.
The Health Department says the extension is in line with statutory requirements and will afford the department sufficient time to 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.
“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 Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa, SAMA chairperson.