Consequent upon the announcement by the Prime Minister of a change to the mask mandate, a new Directive has been prepared to give effect to the change and will take effect from midnight tonight and will run up to June 25, 2022.
It is not anticipated that this change which makes the wearing of masks outdoors optional, except for on school premises, will present any challenges in terms of enforcement, since it immediately reduces the need for policing the wearing of masks in outdoor environments.
As you know, we recently introduced a ticketing system to deal with persons who breached the requirement of mask wearing. This ticketing system served to make the offense of not wearing a mask predictable in terms of the penalty, and also reduced the pressure on the Magistrate Courts of hearing those kind of offenses.
This ticketing system will obviously now only relate to the non-wearing of masks in public buildings and on the school compound. The stipulation previously included “public place” but is now limited to public buildings.
I want to make it clear to the public that in relation to the requirement to wear a mask in a public building, “public building” includes a building, tent or other structure that is fully or substantially enclosed to which members of the public have a general or conditional right of access. Already we have had queries on whether “public building” only refers to buildings occupied by government agencies, and that is certainly not the case.
As always, we ask the public to remember that the rules are there for everyone’s protection and must be followed. While we have relaxed a number of elements of the Directive, that must not be interpreted as any laxness in our approach to fighting COVID as a Government. The rules must be followed and in those cases where the rules have been relaxed, individuals are reminded always to use their good judgment.