SA will remain on alert level one lockdown while government discusses the possibility of vaccine mandates to access certain activities.
The announcement was made by President Cyril Ramaphosa while addressing the nation last night, adding that a task team had been set up to look into making this a reality.
He said while it may seem extreme, engagements with all stakeholders were under way to consider making access to work, events and public transport vaccine mandatory.
“We have therefore been undertaking engagements with social partners and other stakeholders on introducing measures that make vaccination a condition for access to workplaces, public events, public transport and public establishments.
“This includes discussions that have been taking place at Nedlac between government, labour, business and the community constituency, where there is broad agreement on the need for such measures.
“Government has set up a task team that will undertake broad consultations on making vaccination mandatory for specific activities and locations.
“If we don’t address this seriously and as a matter of urgency, we will continue to be vulnerable to new variants and will continue to suffer new waves of infection
“A number of other countries, including some companies in our country have made vaccination compulsory. I’d like consultation to be made because we need to be able to defend our people,” Ramaphosa said.
His address comes after the Omicron variant was first detected in SA and Bostwana, which led to countries shutting down their borders to travellers from the two countries.
Soon after borders were closed to African travellers, countries worldwide closed borders to each other and implemented strict quarantines.
Speaking on the travel bans, Ramaphosa hit out at the countries that restricted flights to the southern countries, saying there was no scientific reason for the ban, and adding that it was against the commitment the countries made during the G20 Summit in Rome in October.
“I’m disappointed by several countries that have restricted travel to us and our sister countries in southern Africa.
“It goes against the commitment these countries made last month in Rome to open up travel and open up the economy.
“This is also why we ’ ve been calling for vaccine equity so that all countries have access to the vaccines,” Ramaphosa said.
In October the National Coronavirus Command Council placed the country on alert level one lockdown ahead of the November 1 local government elections.
Prior to that, the country had been on alert level 3 lockdown.
The country has recorded 3,220 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections to 2,958 548. The death toll stood at 89,791 after eight more deaths were reported. Covid-19 cases have been increasing rapidly countrywide, particularly in Gauteng, with the region predicted to be the first one to enter into the fourth wave.
The increase in cases was also fueled by the fact that the vaccine rollout programme had not been as effective as government had anticipated, with only about 40% of the population inoculated thus far.
As previously reported, due to the low numbers of citizens getting the jab and vaccine hesitancy, government had asked Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Pfizer to delay delivery of Covid-19 vaccines because it had too much stock.
Ramaphosa added that vaccine hesitancy had been a major contributing factor to the increase in Covid-19 cases
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