Although the rules on wearing masks in Mzansi are relatively strict, there are a number of exemptions for certain people – and occasions.
This week, Uber in South Africa confirmed that they would be implementing ‘mask verification’ technology on a more regular basis. The e-hailing app will require riders to upload a selfie of themselves during the ride – if requested by the driver – to prove they’re wearing a face covering. However, they did confirm that some exemptions are in place…
MASKS, EXEMPTIONS, AND THE PEOPLE IT AFFECTS
Disabled citizens, certain carers, and younger children don’t have to wear their masks, according to Uber’s official guidelines. However, this is not a blanket rule for the rest of South Africa. There are different rules for wearing masks in public spaces, onboard public transport, and even while driving your own private vehicle.
Essentially, wearing your mask has become an essential part of leaving the home. With the laws sometimes being a little tricky to interpret, we’ve put together a basic list of all the exemptions for wearing face coverings in South Africa:
WEARING A MASK IN SOUTH AFRICA – WHAT ARE THE EXEMPTIONS?
Masks can be removed in a public space if a person is doing “vigorous exercise”, staying three metres away from other people.
The only other place you can go without your mask is in your home. The law requires face-coverings to be worn in ‘any open public space’, as well when individuals enter ‘shops, public buildings, and places of work’.
Certain medical conditions, such as respiratory diseases and mental illnesses, can exempt a person from wearing a mask.
ONBOARD A FLIGHT
People with relevant medical conditions don’t have to wear their masks.
Children aged two and younger are not required to have a face-covering – as this can restrict their ‘fragile’ airways.
Those who are required to wear masks can remove them when the cabin crew instructs travellers to do so: For example, when food or drink is served onboard an aircraft.
In the event of an emergency, face coverings can also be removed – passengers may be required to use oxygen masks.
DRIVING MY OWN VEHICLE
If you are driving by yourself, in your own private vehicle, mask restrictions do not apply.
However, it’s worth noting that you *might* be punished for driving without a mask if you are carrying passengers.
Private vehicle drivers “won’t automatically be fined” for not wearing a mask. But this exemption could change if a motorist is found to be travelling with people from outside of their own household.
UBER AND E-HAILING APPS
A child who is under the age of 11 is exempt from mask-wearing.
So is anyone whose circumstances mean they cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering (e.g. because of any impairment or disability, or that doing so would cause them severe distress).
Furthermore, anyone travelling with, or providing assistance to, someone who relies on lip-reading to communicate can go maskless.
BUSES AND TAXIS
Exemptions are few and far between here. There are no specific rules that allow people to remove face coverings.
However, certain medical conditions – such as respiratory diseases and mental illnesses – may exempt a person from wearing a mask.