South Africa mulls Vaccine Passports

SOUTH AFRICA is considering introducing “vaccine passports” taking the cue from other countries.

Vaccine passports show verified proof of someone’s COVID-19 vaccination status or COVID-19 status (which can be a ‘passport’, or, in some cases, an alternative verifiable form of proof) that is then used as a condition of entry or service.

They are currently being trialled in locations overseas.

The idea of vaccine passports has beeen viewed in some circles controversial as it denies freedom of movement and association, equity and discrimination, particularly when it comes to accessing everyday goods and services.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told the nation during a televised national COVID-19 response update. He said 7 million people in South Africa have been fully vaccinated.

“We will also be providing further information on an approach for ‘vaccine passports’, which can be used as evidence of vaccination for various purposes and events.

“So that as people go around they are able to demonstrate that yes they were vaccinated
and the Department of Health is looking at a variety of mechanisms like they have in other countries to do it on either cellphone or other form of demonstration,” he said.

He also mask wearing remains mandatory adding that it is a criminal offence not to do so.

“It is a criminal offence not to do so, and the managers of shops and restaurants as well as drivers of taxis and buses have a responsibility to ensure that their customers wear masks, and that the appropriate social distancing measures are in place.

“Funerals remain restricted to no more than 50 people, and, as before, night vigils, after-funeral gatherings and ‘after-tears’ gatherings are not allowed.

“We are able to ease these restrictions thanks to the efforts of all South Africans to adhere to the regulations and basic health measures.

“We are particularly thankful to those sectors of society that have had to endure restrictions on their activities for some time.

“I speak here of religious communities of all faiths, which have been unable to worship and minister to the needs of their congregants as they normally would.

“I speak of the artists, promoters, performers and cultural workers who have had to find other outlets for their work and who have endured great difficulties.

“I speak of the owners of restaurants, bars, taverns, hotels, conference venues and others in the hospitality sector that have seen a massive decline in their business,” he said. “We recognise these hardships and will continue to find ways, within our means, of supporting these sectors and taking steps to enable their recovery.”

He said vaccination provides an opportunity to open up venues as they find ways.

“It needs to be emphasised that the third wave is not yet over, and it is only through our actions – individually and collectively – that we will be able reduce the number of new infections still further.

“Once we have done that, our priority must be to prevent a resurgence of infections.

“Our most urgent task is to vaccinate our population so that as many people as possible are protected from severe illness or death before any resurgence of infections.

“The more people that get vaccinated before December, the less likely it is that we will experience a devastating fourth wave over the holiday period.

“That is the greatest reason for all of us who have not yet done so to get to a vaccination site and get protected,” said Ramaphosa.

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