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Regulations on indoor mask-wearing to be challenged in court

Regulations on indoor mask-wearing to be challenged in court

Government’s decision to permanently enshrine Covid-19 regulations such as mandatory mask-wearing while indoors into law will be challenged in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.

Civil rights organisation AfriForum and the public participation platform DearSA embarked on legal action for the court to review and set aside government’s regulations regarding the management of Covid-19 after the end of the state of disaster which came into law on May 5.

The organisations filed their urgent application this week and the government is still due to file opposing papers.

No date has yet been set for the hearing, although the applicants said it was an urgent matter which should be addressed by the court as soon as possible.

The application follows the Department of Health’s announcement that regulations relating to notifiable diseases in terms of the National Health Act and the International Health Regulations, have now been amended.

According to the applicants, this means that the government can permanently enforce mask mandates and restrictions on gatherings. They said the regulations also give Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla the sole authority to determine how long such regulations should be implemented and when they could be lifted.

This, they said, applied not only to Covid-19, but any notifiable disease.

AfriForum and DearSA also questioned the validity of the public participation process followed by the department before these regulations were implemented. The two organisations said they have submitted more than 310 000 public comments combined.

AfriForum added that it also found it alarming that the regulations that were gazetted were not the same as those published for public comment.

“Citizens of this country are not pawns on the government’s chess board to be pushed around whenever officials feel like it. AfriForum will fight these regulations in the highest courts, if necessary, to ensure that citizens’ rights are fully restored,” said Jacques Broodryk, AfriForum’s campaign manager.

He added that people were fed up with government’s constant encroachment on their personal freedom.

AfriForum’s Monique Taute said in court papers that the mandatory mask regulations infringed on people’s bodily and psychological integrity, while the gathering regulations place a limit on gatherings, with only 50% of a venue’s indoor capability.




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