Political support swells for scrapping of masks, Covid-19 restrictions

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Western Cape Premier Alan Winde
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde
PHOTO: Brenton Geach/Gallo Images
  • Politicians support the repeal of Covid-19 restrictions.
  • Restrictions, which included mandatory mask-wearing, were dropped on Wednesday.
  • Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said individuals must now take responsibility for their own safety.

South African politicians have welcomed the scrapping of Covid-19 restrictions, including mask-wearing in indoor public spaces.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Joe Phaahla gazetted a repeal of remaining Covid-19 regulations, including mask-wearing, large gatherings and travel restrictions.

He further unpacked the decision during a media briefing on Thursday.

Several politicians have voiced support for the move, including Western Cape Premier Alan Winde.

"It is now up to all residents to use the lessons they have learnt over the past two years to keep themselves safe. It is about individual responsibility," he said.

He added:

We need to now move on and learn to live with Covid-19. We have shown our health system has the capabilities, and so we no longer require any further curbs which have been throttling our economic potential.

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said the party had been fighting the regulations since the pandemic started and even sought legal relief. The party was one of those that lobbied for the ending of the national state of disaster.

Groenewald added that the "ill-considered regulations" damaged the economy and the labour market, and said the government had "finally come to its senses".

Good party secretary-general Brett Herron said South Africa was following the example of some other countries that moved away from managing the virus as a health emergency.

"We acknowledge the devastating impact that this pandemic has had on our people's lives and the economy. It will always be a dark memory, that now requires us to focus fully on rebuilding," Herron said.

READ | No more masks: Health Minister Joe Phaahla recommends scrapping Covid-19 regulations as SA exits 5th wave

"However, it is important to remember that Covid-19 remains a virus that will be with us for a long time to come. Due to our increasing level of vaccinations and the continuous strengthening of our healthcare systems, we can return to some form of normality."

Herron also called on South Africans to get vaccinated.

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said the City would immediately lift all remaining restrictions at its facilities and buildings.

This includes capacity limitations at facilities, the compulsory wearing of face masks, and compulsory sanitising at entrances to facilities.

Capetonians will once again be able to fill stadia, sports facilities, clinic waiting rooms, payment halls and other public places.

"The Covid-19 restrictions have not just been a minor inconvenience. Due to capacity limitations, for example, people have, unfortunately at times, had to queue for long periods of time outside in the hot sun, cold wind and rain at clinics, motor licensing facilities and walk-in centres. Our Safe Spaces for homeless residents have not been able to operate at full capacity. Our entertainment industry has suffered and many people have been unable to attend sports events because of restrictions on theatres and stadiums," he added.

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