State of Disaster ends, but lockdown battle not over – IRR

5 April 2022 - The more than 23 000 South Africans who petitioned the Presidency to end the National State of Disaster since the end of last year, propelling an IRR public awareness campaign on restoring accountable governance, have been vindicated with the ending of the state of disaster 750 days after its declaration.

 

The more than 23 000 South Africans who petitioned the Presidency to end the National State of Disaster since the end of last year, propelling an IRR public awareness campaign on restoring accountable governance, have been vindicated with the ending of the state of disaster 750 days after its declaration.

South Africans woke up in a freer country today – but the lockdown is not yet over.

Emergency measures that remain in force under a post-disaster application of the Disaster Management Act include a 50% capacity limit on places of worship and business, vaccine passes for public events, and nationwide indoor mask mandates.

These measures, formerly included in “Lockdown Level One”, remain in place for 30 days under regulations promulgated last week by Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The IRR formally opposed these through a submission to the Cogta Ministry within the 48-hour window for public comment, which argued that post-disaster lockdown is irrational.

Worse still, the post-disaster lockdown measures do not go away after 30 days, but are set to become permanent through new regulations under the National Health Act. These regulations would, inter alia, enforce a mask mandate as long as Covid-19, Tuberculosis or any “Novel Influenza A” virus remain in circulation, practically meaning forever.

To counter this post-disaster mask mandate, the IRR last week launched its “Free Your Face” campaign.

Experts, including Shabir Madhi and Glenda Gray, wrote that “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”. 

The IRR’s submission opposing the post-disaster mask mandate demands that the Cogta ministry provide evidence to the contrary. If ordinary masking practices do “not meaningfully reduce transmission”, the post-disaster enforcement is irrational and must be struck down.

As of this week Germany has cancelled its mask mandate for indoor businesses, catching up with Namibia, Tanzania, Denmark, the US (except Guam), the Netherlands, England, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Japan, Finland, France, and Switzerland to name a few places where people’s faces are free.

South Africa’s record high levels of previous infection and subsequent natural immune boosts explains why infection rates are lower here than in many of the world’s face-freedom leaders. But South Africa’s government is alone in trying to make mask-wearing permanent by law.

When the Republic of Ireland ended its mask mandate, Prime Minister Michael Martin said, “we need to see each other again; we need to see each other smile; we need to sing again”.

More details on the campaign to end the mask mandate 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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