South Africa
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Here are the places government has been advised to restrict access to for unvaccinated people

A task team would be established to consider mandatory vaccinations, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.

A task team would be established to consider mandatory vaccinations, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.
Image: SEBABATSO MOSAMO

Lobby group Business for SA (B4SA) has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s move to consider mandatory vaccinations, suggesting that a vaccine mandate be urgently implemented in workplaces. 

Ramaphosa on Sunday said the country would remain on level 1 lockdown but urged people to get vaccinated.

He said a task team would be established to consider mandatory vaccinations. 

Where should vaccinations be made mandatory?

B4SA, along with scientists and health experts, threw its weight behind a vaccine mandate and called for public access restrictions for unvaccinated people. 

The lobby group provided suggestions of locations and activities to which access should only be given to those who are vaccinated. 

The suggestions include hospitals, grocery stores, events and certain government services, among others.

What is the reason behind the mandate?

According to B4SA, making vaccination mandatory would save lives and avoid severe lockdown restrictions over the upcoming holiday period.

“We need to rapidly move to a situation where only vaccinated individuals should be allowed to travel in buses, taxis and aeroplanes, or to eat and drink in indoor establishments such as restaurants and taverns. 

“This is in line with global restrictions and based on the science regarding airborne disease. Ventilation and masks remain important, but we now need to look at enforcing a further layer of protection,” said B4SA chair Martin Kingston.

The group said vaccine mandates at workplaces will ensure safe working environments for employees and customers.

“In many instances, [this] should include restricting access to vaccinated individuals and implementing vaccine mandates wherever possible. This is in accordance with their responsibilities outlined in the department of labour's OHS [occupational health and safety] directive, issued in July,” it said.

Top epidemiologist and infectious diseases specialist Prof Salim Abdool Karim on Monday, also suggested that “risky” indoor settings should be restricted to vaccinated people. 

He said the restriction was based on the fact that vaccinated people are less likely than unvaccinated people to have severe Covid-19 .

“Even though we are likely to see reinfections and breakthrough infections, vaccinated people are less likely to have severe Covid-19. So one of the things is to restrict risky situations, particularly indoors, to vaccinated people only,” said Abdool Karim.

What about my rights? 

Last month, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) found that mandatory Covid-19 vaccination would not necessarily be a human rights infringement.

The commission said a general law compelling South Africans to get vaccinated would be constitutionally sound under the right circumstances. However, it called on the government to explore all options to encourage voluntary vaccination first.

“The constitution protects several individual rights. These include the right to health, life, freedom of religion, a healthy environment and freedom and security of person. The right of security in and control over one’s body and the right not to be subjected to medical or scientific experiments without one’s informed consent are included.

“Limitation is reasonable. However, the constitution does provide for the Bill of Rights to be subject to limitations: Therefore, the rights of individuals, save for non-derogable rights (such as the rights to life and human dignity) can be limited in terms of section 36 of the constitution, firstly, when the limitation of these rights is done in terms of a law of general application, that is, if the state passes a law that articulates a general compulsory Covid-19 vaccination regime. Secondly, to the extent that the limitation itself is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom.

“This means it would be ‘constitutionally permissible’ to require people to vaccinate provided that this is done in accordance with the processes stipulated in the constitution,” it said.

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