South Africa scraps public mask mandate

South Africa has repealed Covid-19 restrictions on mask-wearing in indoor public spaces, limits on the size of gatherings and entry requirements at its borders, a notice in the Government Gazette showed.

In the brief notice, health minister Joe Phaahla said he had repealed regulations promulgated in May under the National Health Act to control the spread of Covid-19.

The regulations he referred to made face masks mandatory in indoor public spaces and on public transport. They also placed limits on the size of indoor and outdoor public gatherings and meant international travellers entering South Africa had to show a vaccination certificate or negative Covid test.

Travellers who did not present a vaccination certificate or negative test had to take an antigen test and if they tested positive and showed symptoms self-isolate for 10 days.

Phaahla and another minister are due to address reporters at a briefing at 11am where more details are expected to be announced.

South Africa experienced four severe Covid waves, but a resurgence in infections in April and May turned out to be not as bad as feared, with hospitalisations and deaths not rising dramatically unlike previous surges.

In April, President Cyril Ramaphosa lifted most restrictions and announced the end of the national state of disaster, a mechanism that allowed the government to enforce measures to manage the pandemic.  — Alexander Winning and Anait Miridzhanian, (c) 2022 Reuters