- South Africans may be denied access to businesses or public facilities if they are not vaccinated against Covid-19.
- Government is currently in discussions about mandatory vaccination, Health Minister Joe Phaahla has said.
- Directives from the labour department already allow employers to implement a mandatory vaccination policy.
While the government is in discussions about whether or not to enforce mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations, Health Minister Joe Phaahla has said he's "quite certain" a time will come when public facilities will not be accessible without proof of vaccination.
Addressing the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday, Phaahla said the matter of "mandatory vaccination and policy of prohibiting some who don't want to vaccinate from certain activities" was under discussion at various government levels.
However, he said, based on directives made by the Department of Employment and Labour, he anticipated business owners would have some rights in denying access to people who had not been vaccinated.
The directives published by the labour department covered occupational health and safety measures relating to vaccination in the workplace. The directives empower employers to implement a mandatory vaccination policy subject to specific guidelines.
These directives give employers the right to develop policy protecting employees and put certain demands on those who do not want to vaccinate without any medical reason, said Phaahla.
While the private sector may be able to reserve the right of admission, discussions were still taking place as to whether the government will be able to apply the same restrictions at public facilities, Phaahla said.
"This is an area that we as government will have to look at. I'm quite certain that based on [what we're getting] from legal people, once we've achieved sufficient coverage, we should be able to arrive at a stage where we can make demands even at public facilities," he said.
The debate centres around reducing transmission, said the health minister.
Those vaccinated carry a lower viral load than people who have not been vaccinated, said Phaahla, and are less likely to transmit the virus if they become infected.
"You can't have your cake and eat it. You can't enjoy your right not to be vaccinated but then also endanger other people's lives," Phaahla said.
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