Freedom of choice: We should respect those who choose to still wear their masks

File image.

File image.

Published Jun 25, 2022



Johannesburg - It was a move that was almost overshadowed by the momentous events that followed, courtesy of Chief Justice Raymond Zondo only an hour or so later, but on Wednesday Health Minister Dr Joe Phaala effectively repealed the last of the State of Disaster restrictions after 817 days of lockdown.

There are no more restrictions on border movement, nor attendance at public events. Today’s Currie Cup final can be played before a full stadium in Kimberley, as can the upcoming Springbok Test series against Wales. In fact, the only people who might feel their freedom impinged on in the near future are those fingered in Zondo’s final instalment of his mammoth report concluding his Commission of Inquiry.

It is the dropping of the mask requirement that will have the most reaction though, with many rejoicing at the freedom of being able to finally go about without one on. However, the fact that the government doesn’t make it a legal requirement should not stop people from continuing to wear their masks if they so wish – especially if they are feeling unwell and do so out of respect for the health of others.

There are others who will continue to wear them because they’ve got used to and feel protected by them, virologically and physically. Respect their wishes. It’s the same for the vaccine. The anti-vaxxers might rejoice, but there are a considerable number of South Africans who did get vaccinated and many who will still get their booster shot. They should be encouraged.

We have emerged at the other end of a pandemic. We should be humble and grateful. We should also be very circumspect. We changed the course of Covid-19 by wearing masks, getting vaccinated and keeping our distance, and our behaviour could similarly affect the trajectory of monkeypox, which made its landfall in the country this week.

Let’s make sure it does. Trust the science.

The Saturday Star