After two long years South Africans will finally be released from the shackles of wearing masks everywhere they go. The government has also removed the remaining Covid-19 regulations.
Joe Phaahla, Health Minister, made the announcement following a meeting with the National Coronavirus Command Council. There has been a mixed response amongst South Africans to the announcement with some torn between celebrating it or calling it an unwise move from the government.
How did South Africans receive the announcement
There were many who were happy that it wouldn’t be compulsory to wear masks anymore. Anazira, a University of KwaZulu-Natal medicine student, was relieved after hearing the announcement. Her joy was shared by Bernard Boekkooi, a university student, who expressed relief saying that it “feels like it’s been way too long”.
There were those who were concerned that lifting the restriction was unwise. Ziyaad Hajaree, an author, believes the danger has not passed and we still need to be vigilant.
“Upon hearing the news, I felt a sense of caution. I felt like although the virus might be slowed down, we should still take our own measures for safety.”
How effective is wearing a mask
There has long been a debate on whether wearing masks were truly effective. Boekkooi is of the opinion that although the mask was effective, it was not as effective as pro-maskers would like you to believe.
“I don’t think it was as effective as the people who are pro-mask claim, and I don’t think it was entirely useless like the people who are anti-mask claim either. Most people aren’t ready to admit that our methods of containing the spread of the virus for the general population aren’t that effective. Unless everyone is fully compliant and using surgical masks like the KN95 or N95. I don’t see how it would be possible to implement that in any country in the world let alone South Africa.”
Masks were believed to keep the spread of infections down and while Anazira shares that thought, she believes that South African has attained herd immunity, hence they are not needed anymore.
“It did help reduce the cases and overall ensure some level of protection against the virus. I feel like now there’s more herd immunity. We don’t need it as much as we did when the virus was foreign and new.”
Will people be wearing masks now that it is not compulsory?
People have grown accustomed to wearing masks. Many on social media jokingly reacted that they will now need to watch their facial features when going out. People have grown accustomed to wearing masks. They have even changed their mannerisms and how they show their emotions in public. Boekkooi is happy to leave the mask behind and wear it only when seeing people who have compromised immune systems.
The long debate over whether masks are good or bad has ended abruptly. Those who felt it beneficial will continue to wear one and those who hated it can now leave it at home.