The Western Cape government is discussing mandatory vaccinations – considering the policy for staff within the provincial government’s various departments, and mulling the province’s official stance on the issue, says premier Alan Winde.

Addressing the Western Cape provincial parliament on Friday (3 September), Winde said that the topic of mandatory vaccines is likely to gain increasing prominence in the coming weeks as private sector companies such as Discovery begin introducing their own mandates.

Winde said that his provincial government had received several emails from residents who must have vaccinations before travelling or working overseas.

“Yes, we are having that discussion amongst our own staff within our departments. What should we be doing? What is our stance on it? How do we deal with this? There are parts of the world where it is mandatory – even if you want to book an air ticket, do you have your vaccine or a vaccine passport.”

Winde said that he was in also favour of an e-passport or e-record showing the vaccination status of a person. He added that the current physical card system was not good enough and that the pass would have to be digital.

He said that the various provincial governments and tourist groups were discussing a QR-code-based system showing a person’s vaccination status with the national government. This should be internationally recognised for travel, he said.

Responding in an oral Q&A in parliament on Friday (3 September), the president said that getting vaccinated was key to restarting normal activities in the country.

“If we can vaccinate a large enough proportion of our population – particularly the adult population – by December, we can avoid another devastating wave of infections and restrictions on the economy,” he said.

Ramaphosa said that those who refuse to be vaccinated increase the risks for others – not only of a further resurgence of infections but of prolonged economic hardship and lack of recovery.

A fourth Covid-19 wave in December would be devastating for the tourism rich Western Cape Province, which has suffered to stay afloat for nearly two years since the onset of the Covid pandemic and resulting lockdowns.