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Mixed reactions to ditching masks

Youth around Cape Town have shared their thoughts on the mask mandate. From left: Leroi Pietersen, Carlton Joël, Gail Oliver and Juvani Aaron. Pictures: Supplied

Youth around Cape Town have shared their thoughts on the mask mandate. From left: Leroi Pietersen, Carlton Joël, Gail Oliver and Juvani Aaron. Pictures: Supplied

Published Jun 23, 2022

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Cape Town - Capetonians had mixed reactions to the government’s announcement to drop mask mandates on Wednesday.

Minister of Health Joe Phaala announced that on top of lifting the mask requirements in public spaces, the laws regarding public events and gatherings had been repealed.

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While the scrapping of the last restrictive regulations to manage Covid-19 have largely been welcomed, there are still people who fear it may lead to carelessness that could result in increased cases.

Gail Oliver, a 20-year-old student from Cape Town, said the scrapping of the mask mandate made her anxious.

“I was diagnosed with long Covid in February. The scans, tests and consultation fees amounted to nearly R15 000,” she said.

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“That, coupled with the low vaccine rates, makes me anxious because people can easily practise negligence now. I’m afraid this is an excuse for people to be ignorant and thrive off false conspiracies regarding Covid-19,” she said.

Carlton Joël, 29, from Bellville, said they felt that masks were helpful and helped fight the spread of the virus.

“At the same time, I’m so happy to let go of the mask, because now my make-up is safe, and I can wear glossy lipstick again,” they said. "I am burning every mask I own and having a full-on ritual for their farewell.”

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Leroi Pietersen, 22, from Kuilsriver, said he would continue wearing masks for his own safety.

“I still feel a bit unsafe not wearing a mask. Hearing that the laws have changed can make one feel afraid and still in fear,” he said. “I will continue wearing my mask to be extra cautious.”

Juvani Aaron, a 24-year-old photographer from Bellville, said while he understands the intention behind dropping the mask mandate, he believed it’s terrible timing.

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“We are heading into winter now. This is flu season, and people are already getting sick. If you wanted to deregulate everything else, you could have at least kept the mask mandate and social distancing,” he said.

“I think the changes should have occurred progressively. I think all the changes happening at once will lead to havoc, it sounds like a recipe for disaster.”

Lauren-Leigh Jarvis, 27, from Ravensmead, said she thinks dropping the mask mandate is a big mistake.

“The virus is still thriving. Nobody said Covid-19 no longer exists. We are opening more room for it to grow,” she said.

“I think the regulations should only have changed once the country was cleared from Covid-19 cases. I will continue to wear my mask because I believe it’s saved me from contracting the virus,” she added.

Weekend Argus

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