#FreeYourFace finally triumphs
South Africa’s mask mandate, vaccine pass, and venue capacity limits were repealed with immediate effect by Health Minister Joe Phaahla on Wednesday, 818 days after these lockdown measures were first introduced to try to combat Covid-19.
Many people will continue to wear masks in the cold winter, some will get Covid-19 booster shots, and some will avoid heavily crowded spaces too. The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) believes it should be everybody’s right to choose these things, and now it finally is.
The #FreeYourFace campaign launched by the IRR championed the freedom to choose, raising over 15 000 signatures to end the lockdown measures, disband the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), and to reform the legal system so that irrational lockdown abuses cannot be repeated (an ongoing mission).
When word of Minister Phaahla’s proposal to repeal the last remaining lockdown measures was leaked, the #FreeYourFace campaign team emailed and phoned all departments represented in the NCCC to make the case for finalising the repeal. This urgency was backed by scientific, legal, and economic evidence-based arguments.
According to UK official statistics, Covid-19 has been less deadly than the flu in that country at least since March 2022, predominantly due to that country’s high vaccination rate. In March, Professor Shabir Madhi noted that “we’ve made similar sorts of estimates for South Africa”, predominantly because of extremely high rates of previous infection.