Face Masks in Public Are Out – But What About the Workplace?

On 22 June 2022 the Minister of Health published a notice in the Government Gazette repealing Regulations 16A, 16B and 16C of the Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions issued under the National Health Act on 4 May 2022. The repeal does away with the requirement to wear face masks in public, the limits on gatherings and restrictions on international travel to South Africa.

Written By of Cowan-Harper-Madikizela Attorneys

The repeal of these Regulations does however not affect the continued operation of the Hazardous Biological Agents Regulations (“the HBA Regulations”) published on 16 March 2022. Those regulations classify Covid-19 as a Group 3 Hazardous Biological Agent (HBA) and place several obligations on employers, including conducting a risk assessment and developing an action plan for the implementation of recommendations arising from the risk assessment.
The HBA Regulations must also be read with the Code of Practice: Managing Exposure to SARS-COV-2 in the Workplace which was published on 15 March 2022 and which came into effect upon the lapsing of the State of Disaster. The Code of Practice makes reference to a workplace plan (following a risk assessment) which may require employees to wear face masks. 
The HBA Regulations were promulgated under the Occupational Health & Safety Act, while the Code of Practice was issued as a regulation to the Labour Relations Act. These documents must accordingly be interpreted in accordance with those Acts and, in particular, the obligations of employers arising therefrom.

Contact our Employment Law team for more information on this issue.

Neil Coetzer

Neil Coetzer
Head of Employment

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