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Business 4 SA pushes for mandatory vaccination as it seeks legal clarity

29 November 2021 - 18:30
B4SA says there is a need to move swiftly to restrict access to public indoor areas (except for emergency use) and public transport to vaccinated people only.
B4SA says there is a need to move swiftly to restrict access to public indoor areas (except for emergency use) and public transport to vaccinated people only.
Image: SEBABATSO MOSAMO

Business for SA (B4SA) supports mandatory vaccination and wants a rapid move to restrict access to public indoor areas not required for emergency use to vaccinated people only.

B4SA chairperson Martin Kingston said the organisation is encouraged by President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement on Sunday that a task team had been established to discuss mandatory vaccination for specific activities and locations.

“We need to rapidly move to a situation where only vaccinated individuals are allowed to travel in buses, taxis and airplanes, or to eat and drink in indoor establishments such as restaurants and taverns,” he said on Monday.

“This is in line with global restrictions and based on science regarding airborne disease. Ventilation and masks remain important, but we need to look at enforcing a further layer of protection.”

“The country has sufficient vaccines available and it is imperative that as many people as possible get vaccinated as soon as possible so the health system is not overburdened and to minimise lockdown restrictions,” he said.

B4SA urged employers to ensure a safe working environment for workers and customers  and implement vaccine mandates wherever possible.

“We all understand the constitutional rights that we as individuals have and we have no doubt that there will be an increasing number of legal cases, and we think that is a good thing because we believe the sooner there is clarity the better it will be.

“It is true that a number of companies are understandably apprehensive about the risk of legal pursuit,” Kingston said.

B4SA MD Cas Coovadia said the organisation was also seeking a court declaration to get legal clarity and “a bit of more certainty” on occupational health and safety regulations as they relate to vaccines.

This would “give businesses confidence that if they want to apply some sort of mandatory vaccination policy they would be in context of the law”.

“Another intention was to use that also as an additional tool to try to generate significantly more demand for vaccinations than we have currently, because that is the critical challenge we have right now.”

Coovadia said B4SA had met advocates and senior councils and affidavits are being prepared.

“Senior council needs some work done which we are doing. Senior council is going on leave soon and we will look at this again when senior council comes back in January. If we think it is still appropriate to go for a [court] declarator, we will do so.”

Kingston criticised travel bans imposed by some countries as highly problematic and not based on scientific evidence.

“It is not clear that the current variant emerged in SA and we only understand that it was detected in SA.

“We have heard from our engagements from the travel and tourism industry that there have been wholesale cancellations already and that is likely to continue to be the case. The travel and tourism and hospitality sectors are going to have to rely upon domestic tourism and consumers,” he said.

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