Music festivals, sporting events and other gatherings are some of the ‘soft incentive’ measures being discussed by government in an effort to encourage South Africans to get vaccinated, Minister of Health, Joe Phaala, announced during a media briefing last week.
The measures, which are set to be finalised over the next week, mean that attendees will need to show some vaccination confirmation when attending these events. The initiative will also allow more sports, culture, and other businesses to open up.
Phaala said consultations had already taken place with sporting bodies and events and arts groups to promote these events.
He added that the government currently had no intention of introducing legislation for mandatory vaccinations.
“FEDHASA has been in support of mass vaccination of all those in South Africa from the get-go and commends government for looking at measures to encourage citizens to get vaccinated,” said Rosemary Anderson, FEDHASA National Chairperson. “Simultaneously this needs to be done sensitively and in harmony, while respecting all our human rights.”
She agreed that opening up music and sporting events would go a long way towards the recovery of the hospitality and tourism industry.
“South Africa is renowned for hosting world-class sporting, cultural and entertainment events, and it is most heartening to see that this will be happening once again – which will add to the recovery of our sector."
Phaala said government would also look at easing lockdown restrictions over the next week, pointing out that an analysis would be conducted by the health department and the COVID-19 ministerial advisory committees in the coming days. If there was indeed a sustained decline, then restrictions would be eased, he said.
“We continue to emphasise that responsible trading, together with mass vaccination of all those living in South Africa, is the only sustainable solution in the industry’s fight against COVID-19 – and we still believe it to be the way forward,” said Anderson.
She said one could look at the UK as an example, where even though they were severely affected by the next COVID-19 wave, they were still able to continue opening up their economy as the majority of their population had been vaccinated and, hence, residents were, by and large, protected from severe illness. Also, their healthcare system was not being over-burdened by the latest wave they were going through.
“It is simply not sustainable to keep sectors like hospitality and tourism in South Africa under severe trading restrictions, which makes it financially unviable for many in the sector to continue trading. It is a difficult balancing act for Government, but the reality of the harm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic being dwarfed by the poverty pandemic is growing,” said Anderson.
She pointed out that FEDHASA had designed a robust set of health and safety protocols for COVID-19, and that its members were acutely aware of the importance of adhering to these standards to safeguard the public and to be able to continue trading.