The health ministry, on Wednesday evening, ushered in a new set of revised ‘limited’ regulations and as of today, school children will not be required to wear face masks.
No face masks for school children
Dr Joe Phaahla’s ministry swooped in, in the 11th hour, to render an update to COVID-19 regulations before they expired at midnight. This is the power yielded by the health department, after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the end of the national state of disaster.
Under the prescripts of the section in the National Health Act that deals with Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Condition, Dr Phaahla oversaw the resumption of an adjusted face mask mandate.
According to the new rules, the public is still required to wear a face mask in indoor settings. However, this does not apply to school children.
The decision to exclude school children in the COVID-19 face mask mandate comes after the DA’s shadow basic education minister Baxolile Nodada highlighted the negative impact it carries in the learning environment.
“The real reason for masking children is to produce the illusion that the government is taking action. Masking children is so much easier than building the healthcare system and providing sufficient classroom space,” Nodada wrote in an opinion piece.
What are the new limited regulations?
This exemption, however, does not apply to the general public. Face masks must still be worn indoors and, more importantly, in public transit.
“Again, under these limited regulations, no person may use any form of public transport unless wearing a face mask,” the health ministry noted.
Here are more limited regulations announced by the ministry on Wednesday evening:
- Cap on indoor and outdoor gatherings remains in place: 50% of venue capacity
- Cap for large indoor venues limited to 1 000, 2 000 for large outdoor spaces
- Venues are allowed to require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test result not older than 72 hours