South Africans share mixed reactions on lifting of mask-wearing COVID-19 regulation

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South Africans have mixed feelings about the scrapping of the mask-wearing COVID-19 regulation.

Citizens were subjected to donning masks since the coronavirus outbreak more than two years ago, first everywhere and later just indoors.

This is the feeling on the streets.

“Finally we can walk freely without being asked to wear a mask.”

“I will continue wearing it, it’s not like the virus is gone. So i better be safe.”

“I was happy to hear it because I will begin to save some money that I was using to buy the masks. Things are expensive.”

Wearing of masks at schools no longer required

The move has been welcomed by the Department of Basic Education, however, the department says learners who wish to continue wearing masks are welcome to do so.

Spokesperson for the Education Department Elijah Mhlanga says Minister Angie Motshekga supports the repealing of the mask mandate for learners.

Mhlanga says learners, teachers and staff at schools do not need to wear masks but can continue to do so if they wish.

“The Minister of Basic Educations supports the announcement made by the Minister of Health, that the wearing of masks is no longer mandatory. That means even in school learners, teachers and staff would also not be expected to wear masks in schools or in the classrooms but if they wish to continue to do so, they should feel free to do so. But the announcement by the Department of Health is what the Department of Basic Education is aligning itself with, “says Mhlanga.

SAMA not surprised by lifting of regulations

South African Medical Association (SAMA) says government’s decision to do away with the remaining COVID-19-related regulations did not come as a surprise, as the rules were not being fully enforced in public spaces.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla published the latest amendments in the Government Gazette on Wednesday with strict rules on wearing masks indoors and limitations on gatherings now being repealed.

Prof. Alex van den Heever on the lifting of regulations:

SAMA chairperson Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa says, “Most people have already gotten rid of masks. This is just an official statement and there was poor enforcement of those regulations anyway. You have seen funerals full to capacity and in public transport, people were already not wearing masks, so I don’t think it is a new thing but now it is just official.”

Limitations on gatherings as well as testing and vaccination requirements for visitors to South Africa are also scrapped. These regulations were implemented as part of the national state of disaster since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country, two years ago.