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Vaccine mandates are a thorny issue

There’s very little middle ground when it comes to vaccine mandates: some people fervently support the notion of having to be vaccinated to enter certain places, while others are fiercely opposed. It’s a controversial topic, but one that’s become increasingly urgent, as only about a quarter of South Africans are fully vaccinated and vaccine hesitancy shows no signs of abating.

During his latest address to the nation on Sunday evening to speak about the new variant, President Cyril Ramaphosa said his cabinet was considering making vaccines mandatory for specific locations and activities. Previously he said no one will be forced to take the vaccine, but with our economy on its knees and South Africans still not queuing for their vaccines, an intervention is needed. It may not be a speedy one: Ramaphosa has done his usual thing of appointing a task team to “undertake broad consultations”. Business leaders are also pushing for vaccines to become mandatory – and showing that it works. Just 22% of staff at mega-insurer Discovery were vaccinated voluntarily. The company implemented what seems to be a carefully considered mandatory vaccination policy: three months later, 94% of its staff were vaccinated. Still, this isn’t a simple matter: there are loads of legalities to consider and rights to balance, and there’s bound to be pushback from those opposed to vaccines. 

In case you missed it, we’re still on adjusted lockdown level 1 following Ramaphosa’s address. No new restrictions were introduced, so curfew is still between 12am and 4am. Indoor gatherings are limited to 750 people, while outdoor gatherings are limited to 2 000 people. This will be reviewed in the week and is subject to change, so hang tight.

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 2 December 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.