South Africa is set to enter a new era of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the government preparing to drop all remaining restrictions. A number of small inconveniences remain as part of our laws, but the Health Ministry is ready to repeal them all – including the mask rules.
Why are mask rules being removed in South Africa?
As it stands, South Africans have to wear a face covering in any indoor public place, or onboard any form of public transport. The prevalence of the virus has been low throughout 2022, and even the so-called ‘fifth wave’ in Autumn barely made a ripple in the COVID-19 data.
Therefore, ANC leaders believe the time is right to drop our mask rules, alongside limits on gatherings and venue entry requirements. The last mandates are likely to be dropped in the next few days – but some corners of our society have reacted apprehensively to the news.
Wits Professor explains why mask rules have run their course
The COVID Support Group SA has argued that mask rules must remain ‘to protect children’, with a particular focus on keeping face coverings in the classroom. However, the support for measures that directly impact our youngest has waned dramatically over the last few months.
Professor Shabir Madhi is a vaccinologist at Wits University. He has calmy and rationally explained why the mask rules no longer seem fit for purpose. The distinguished expert points to data which highlights how millions of children caught COVID-19 – even when a mandate was in place.
- Therefore, Madhi believes that keeping the mask rules in place will make little-to-no difference overall.
“We note that 85% of children under 12 in Gauteng were infected AFTER the Omicron BA1 wave – when there was still a mask mandate. In fact, 70% of 12-17 year-olds were infected during the BA.1 variant wave alone. We need to frame this discussion in context of reality.”Shabir Madhi
Government ready to end all COVID-19 restrictions
Since the early part of 2022, Madhi has been lobbying for the expiry of remaining restrictions. Countries like the UK have gone almost ONE YEAR without government-enforced regulations – and the professor is adamant that the focus should be shifted towards rebuilding the economy.
“At long last, the government is coming to grips with the reality, bringing an effective end to COVID-19 restrictions. Now to work on the collateral economic and other damage of what was self inflicted due to stubbornness of not following the science.”Shabir Madhi
Trying not to respond but- 85% of children <12 in Gauteng were infected after the Omicron BA1 wave had subsided when there was still a mask mandate. 70% 12-17 yr old children were infected during the BA. 1 variant wave alone. Need to frame this discussion in context of reality— Shabir Madhi (@ShabirMadh) June 21, 2022