South Africans will still have to wear masks in indoor public places under the new COVID-19 regulations gazetted by Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla on Wednesday (4 May).
The regulations now fall under the National Health Act following the end of the national state of disaster, which was governed by the National Disaster Act.
Masks and COVID-19 in South Africa
“A person must, when entering and being inside an indoor public place, wear a face mask. No person may use any form of public transport if they do not wear a face mask,” the regulations state in the government gazette.
The regulations however give power to the Minister of Health to determine if these measures are no longer necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa. Similarly, he may subsequently determine that they are necessary once again.
For indoor gatherings, a maximum of 50 percent of the venue capacity may be occupied provided that attendees are vaccinated against COVID-19 and produce a valid vaccination certificate. Alternatively, they can produce a valid certificate of negative COVID-19 test obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of the gathering.
Where this regulation is not complied with, “the attendance of the indoor gathering shall be limited to 1,000 people or 50 percent of the capacity, whichever is smaller,” the regulations add.
For outdoor gatherings, a maximum of 50 percent of the venue capacity may be occupied, subject to similar vaccination or test requirements outlined for indoor gatherings. If this is not complied with, the attendance will be limited to 2,000 people or 50 percent of the capacity, whichever is smaller.
Registered basic education institutions are however excluded from regulations on gatherings, while accommodation establishments (such as hotels, guest houses etc) are allowed full capacity. However, patrons will have to wear masks in common spaces.
All international travellers entering South Africa must be vaccinated against COVID-19 and produce a valid vaccination certificate. Alternatively, they must produce a valid certificate of negative PCR COVID-19 test obtained not more than 72 hours before the departure date.
The third option is the traveller providing a valid negative antigen COVID-19 test certificate obtained 48 hours before departure date.
The final one is the traveller providing a valid positive PCR COVID-19 test certificate for a test date less than 90 days before arrival date and more than 10 days before arrival date, along with a signed letter from a registered healthcare provider stating that the traveller has fully recovered from COVID-19, is not experiencing any new symptoms and is fit to travel.
If a traveller does not comply with these regulations, he/she must undergo COVID-19 antigen testing at the port of entry. If positive, the traveller will still be admitted into the country but if he/she is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, he/she must isolate for 10 days after admission.
The travel regulations do not apply to travellers who are under 12 years old and daily commuters from neighbouring countries.