Lobby group Business for South Africa (B4SA) has provided some suggestions of locations and activities that should be allowed only for those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
The conversation around mandatory vaccinations has not been well received by some people across the country, as they believe that forcing them to get vaccinated is a violation of their rights.
In September, President Cyril Ramaphosa insisted that no South African would be forced to take the Covid-19 vaccine, but that has since changed following the emergence of the new Omicron variant and a pending fourth wave of infections.
Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Sunday, where he indicated that talks over mandatory vaccinations were already underway.
“The introduction to such a matter is a complex issue, but if we don’t address this we will continue to be vulnerable for more coronavirus waves and new variants,” the President said.
B4SA, alongside a group of scientists and health experts, have since called for public-access restrictions for the unvaccinated.
This may see certain public spaces being open only to people who are vaccinated.
These places include hospitals, grocery stores, events and certain government services, among others.
“We need to rapidly move to a situation where only vaccinated individuals should be allowed to travel in buses, taxis and airplanes, 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 diseases. Ventilation and masks remain important, but we now need to look at enforcing a further layer of protection,” B4SA chairperson Martin Kingston said in a statement.
Kingston said B4SA had also called for vaccine mandates at workplaces.
“[This] in many instances 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.
SA’s vaccine rollout
Just over 25 million vaccine doses have been administered in South Africa since the launch of the vaccination programme this year.
About 41% of the adult population have already received one vaccine dose, while 35.6% are already fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Meanwhile, government is increasing its efforts to encourage South Africans to get vaccinated with another themed Vooma Vaccination campaign.
The nationwide mass vaccination drive would take place from 3 to 10 December.
Vaccination is free to everyone living in South Africa and available at government health facilities or private pharmacies that offer vaccinations, with or without a medical aid.
In a previous Vooma vaccination campaign held earlier this month, government aimed to vaccinate 500,000 people.
However, a total of 263,465 people came out to receive their vaccines.
The first vaccination drive, held in October, resulted in 353,819 getting their jabs.
Government is aiming to get 70% of the population immunised by the end of the year.
New Omicron variant
The newly discovered Omicron variant – also known as B.1.1.529 – was classified as a variant of concern (VoC) by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 27 November.
The Omicron’s genetic profile differs from other variants of interest and concern, it is not yet known if it is deadlier than previous variants.
The WHO says it could take several weeks to know if there are significant changes in transmissibility, severity or implications for Covid vaccines, tests and treatments.
Additional reporting by Xanet Scheepers