IRR demands evidence that post-disaster lockdown measures are needed

14 April 2022 - The government must provide evidence that lockdown measures such as mask mandates, vaccine passes, and 50% capacity restrictions on businesses and places of worship are effective, even after the State of Disaster has ended.

The government must provide evidence that lockdown measures such as mask mandates, vaccine passes, and 50% capacity restrictions on businesses and places of worship are effective, even after the State of Disaster has ended.

A demand to this effect is contained in a letter that the IRR’s attorneys sent to the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) today. It says that evidence must be supplied to show that lockdown measures have been monitored for their effectiveness over the last two years, and particularly over the recent period of Omicron variant infections.

The matter is urgent since although South Africa is no longer in a State of Disaster several lockdown measures are being imposed without any official evidence that these measures work in the current post-disaster environment.

For example, according to six experts – including Dr Shabir Madhi and Dr Glenda Gray – “experience with the highly transmissible and infectious Omicron variant indicates that the type of cloth mask most worn by the public (which rarely provides a good seal around the nose and mouth) provides little to no protection against being infected and does not meaningfully reduce transmission”.

On April 1 the IRR submitted that the Cogta Ministry was prohibited from imposing post-disaster mask mandates unless it could scientifically contradict that expert opinion. This submission was delivered during the 48-hour window for public comment on the post-disaster lockdown measures before they were implemented from April 5.

The Cogta Ministry has failed to provide any such evidence, prompting the IRR to instruct its attorneys to make a further demand for answers.

Said Gabriel Crouse, head of the Free Your Face campaign: “Without evidence to contradict the experts, how can ordinary people be expected to think that post-disaster mask mandates are anything but a test of obedience to the government? Unquestioned force is the opposite of democracy.” [Details on the Free Your Face campaign here https://irr.org.za/campaigns/free-your-face]

In terms of the Disaster Management Act, a National Disaster Management Centre was required over the past two years to have monitored “compliance” with mitigation measures like mask mandates and “from time to time, measure performance and evaluate” lockdown measures under the State of Disaster.

However, the National Centre’s website indicates that the Chief Director of Monitoring Evaluation Systems is vacant. The IRR’s attorneys also requested clarity on this vacancy from the Cogta Ministry.

Concludes Crouse: “Respect for the rule of law in South Africa is dwindling, as renewed looting in KZN shows yet again. Respect for the law will not return until the rulers stick to their own rules, justify the rules they make, and cut any rules that are in place just for the sake of showing who is boss.”

Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Namibia, Tanzania and over 25 other democracies have lifted national mask mandates.
 

Media contacts: Gabriel Crouse, IRR Head of Campaigns – 082 510 0360; gabriel@irr.org.za
Chris Hattingh, IRR Deputy Head of Campaigns – 083 600 8688; chris@irr.org.za
 
Media enquiries: Michael Morris Tel: 066 302 1968 Email: michael@irr.org.za

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