Department of Health: Masks for indoors still here to stay!

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Yesterday there was confusion in the country about whether the wearing of masks is a thing of the past.

The Department of Health, which now controls the regulations related to Covid regulations, gazetted new regulations and issued the following media statement:

Health Minister extends public consultation period for health regulations

Pretoria: The Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla has extended the period for public comments on health regulations relating to the Surveillance and Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions; Public Measures in Points of Entry; Management of Human Remains and Environmental Health by three months with effect from Thursday, 5 May 2022.
 
The new closing date for submission of comments is 5th of July 2022, and this extension is in line with statutory requirements and will afford the department sufficient time to go through and consider all comments and representations on the regulations.
 
Comments must be sent only to this e-mail: legalreviews@health.gov.za on or before the expiry of three (3) months period from the date of publication.
 
All members of the public who submitted comments in the initial public consultation process do not need to resubmit these comments as all comments already submitted will be considered as part of this process.
 
In order to ensure that there is no gap in terms of legal instruments to contain the spread of COVID-19 and future notifiable medical conditions, the department has gazetted the limited regulations for implementation with effect from Thursday, 05 May 2022. 
 
These regulations mainly focus on wearing of face masks, gatherings and persons entering the country.
 
With regards to wearing a face mask, 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. 
 
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, whichever is smaller, while the attendance at an outdoor gathering shall be limited to 2000 people or 50% of the capacity, whichever is smaller.
 
All international travellers arriving at South African Ports of Entry must be vaccinated against
COVID-19 and produce a valid vaccination certificate; or produce a valid negative
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, travellers 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.
 
In a case where an international traveller is unable to produce a vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test result older than 72 hours or a negative antigen test result obtained at least 48 hours prior departure, then he/she must undergo antigen testing at the Port of Entry.
 
If the person tests positive for COVID-19 in the antigen test, the traveller will still be admitted into the country but, if the traveller is experiencing symptoms of COVID­19, they must self-isolate a period of ten days after admission into South Africa.
 
However, the vaccination or testing requirement is not applicable to travellers who are under the age of 12 years and daily commuters from neighbouring countries.
 
It is important to emphasise that the proposed amendments to the health regulations do not amend the National Health Act, 2003 but rather augment certain existing regulations.
 
The Department would like to remind people that, despite the current process to source public comments on the health regulations, there is still an imperative to provide options to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and other notifiable medical conditions without invoking the state of national disaster.
 
Therefore, members of the public are reminded that COVID-19 remains a life-threatening disease, and the country is not yet out of the woods. 
 
The only way we can protect ourselves and our loved ones against this pandemic and the current rising number of positive cases, is through vaccination and adhering to preventative measures at all times. 
 
Fully vaccinated people are urged to consider booster shots to increase their immunity.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Foster Mohale
Director Media Relations
National Health Department
Cell: 072 4323792
Doctor Tshwale
MLO – Health Minister
National Health Department
Cell: 063 657 8487

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein, My Cape Town Guide/Mein Kapstadt Guide Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein @MyCapeTownGuide

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