IRR launches “Free Your Face” campaign - IRR

31 March 2022 - The IRR opposes the government’s attempt to force masks onto South African faces indefinitely and has therefore launched a citizens’ petition, a public awareness campaign and legal correspondence with government officials to galvanise opposition.

The IRR opposes the government’s attempt to force masks onto South African faces indefinitely and has therefore launched a citizens’ petition, a public awareness campaign and legal correspondence with government officials to galvanise opposition.

Mask mandates will be radically transformed from a limited emergency measure into the permanent masking of South African public life, with an ongoing exception for politicians making speeches, if regulations promulgated by Health Minister Joe Phaahla take effect in mid-April.

Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has come to realize, after significant civil society pressure, that emergency measures cannot be justified by Covid-19, and this week promulgated regulations to end the “State of Disaster” under the Disaster Management ACT (DMA).

But now that the government has admitted that South Africa is no longer in a state of disaster as a result of Covid-19, various emergency measures like the mask mandate are poised to become permanent under the National Health Act (NHA).

Specifically, Minister Phaahla’s proposed regulations under the NHA state:

  • “16A (1) In order to contain the spread of notifiable medical conditions listed in Annexure A, Tables 1, 2, and 3, which notifiable medical conditions may be spread through droplets or aerosol, the containment measures stipulated in subregulations (2) to (8) must be adhered to.
  • (2) A person must, when in a gathering in an indoor public place, wear a face mask or a homemade item that covers his or her nose and mouth.
  • (3) No person may be allowed to use any form of public transport, or to enter a public premises [sic], if they do not wear a face mask or a homemade item that covers the nose and mouth when in an indoor pubic place.”

Covid-19 is listed as a category 1 “notifiable medical condition”, meaning that as long as Covid-19 circulates in the population the mask mandate will be enforced. Since January 2021, as noted in Nature, one of the world’s most prominent scientific journals, the scientific consensus has been that Covid-19 will stick around and that zero-Covid is nothing but a “beautiful dream”.

Moreover, Covid-19 is not the only notifiable medical condition that will unfortunately continue to spread through droplets or aerosol in categories 1, 2, and 3 indefinitely. Others include “Tuberculosis”, “Acute rheumatic fever”, and “Respiratory disease caused by a novel respiratory pathogen”, with examples including “novel influenza A virus and MERS coronavirus”.

As long as any of these remain in circulation the mask mandate that “no person may be allowed” to enter “public premises” if they do not cover their faces will remain in place. Simply put, Minister Phaahla is mandating masks forever.

However, other countries in a virally similar or worse position have stopped forcing people to wear masks. These include, Namibia, Denmark, Tanzania, USA (except Guam), Netherlands, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland.

As Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin said when that country lifted all mask mandates, “we need to see each other again. We need to see each other smile. We need to sing again”.

The IRR will make submissions on both the new DMA and NHA regulations.

The IRR petition, and more details on its campaign, are available here. https://irr.org.za/campaigns/free-your-face

 
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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