After two years, two months, and 26 days, South Africa’s lockdown is finally over.
Health minister Joe Phaahla quietly published a notice in the Government Gazette on Wednesday repealing South Africa’s Covid–19 regulations.
An announcement regarding the regulations was only expected later this week after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet met on Thursday.
“I Mathume Joseph Phaahla, Minister of Health hereby repeal Regulations 16A, 16B and 16C of the Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions… in their entirety,” the two-paragraph notice states.
“The repeal of the Regulations concerned will come into operation on publication in the Gazette.”
Regulation 16A dealt with mask-wearing, 16B contained the regulations on gatherings, and 16C were the regulations for international travellers entering South Africa.
Phaahla’s repeal of the regulations comes after he wrote to provincial health MECs on Monday asking for their views on doing away with the rules.
Several doctors leaked the minister’s letter online on Monday evening.
Health department deputy director-general Nicholas Crisp told MyBroadband that it is a statutory requirement for the minister to conduct such consultations before regulations are promulgated or withdrawn.
Phaahla said in his letter that the regulations were intended as a stop-gap measure for South Africa to deal with the impending “fifth wave”.
The fifth wave has come and gone since the regulations were promulgated on 4 May.
The minister said his department has been working with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases on monitoring the epidemic. As of mid-June, the critical indicators showed:
- Reported cases declined
- Hospitalisations declined
- Effective reproductive rate of the virus declined to under 0.7%
- Positivity rate declined, though the number of tests done is also low
- Reported deaths declined
For these reasons, Phaahla said the National Department of Health had…