Here are the new mask rules planned for South Africa

The Department of Health has confirmed that masks will still be a requirement in certain areas and circumstances once it lifts the national state of disaster.

On Wednesday (16 March), the department published proposed regulations under the National Health Act which will effectively act as a long-term replacement to South Africa’s state of disaster Covid regulations.

The planned regulations will effectively act as a new instrument for the government to manage the current Covid pandemic and future pandemics, with the proposals open for public comment until 15 April 2022.

While countries such as the United Kingdom have begun to completely remove masks as a regulatory requirement, South Africa’s government had shown hesitancy in this regard.

The proposed rules state that masks will be a requirement in the following situations going forward:

  • A person must, when in a gathering in an indoor place, wear a face mask or a homemade item that covers his or her nose and mouth;
  • No person may be allowed to use any form of public transport, or enter public premises if they do not wear a face mask or a homemade item that covers his or her nose and mouth;
  • An employer must provide employees with a cloth or shield face mask that covers the nose and mouth;
  • Indoor and outdoor gatherings may be occupied up to 50% of the venue capacity, provided valid vaccine certificates are produced and masks are worn.

Notably, there no longer appears to be a requirement to wear a mask in an outdoor public space – such as on the street – although it is not clear if this is simply an oversight.

It should be noted that these changes are still in the proposal phase and could still be altered based on the public comment received.

Once approved, the regulations will be implemented within the National Department of Health and with the support of some of the public entities reporting to the department and will not be tabled before parliament since it is subordinate legislation which parliament has already delegated to the minister, the department said.


Read: New lockdown rules for South Africa to replace state of disaster – here’s what you should know

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Here are the new mask rules planned for South Africa