NAVIGATING MATRIC RAGE AND END OF YEAR PARTIES

Matrics have missed out on so much this year. While writing exams, most have been hidden indoors, and kept away from all outside contact, out of fear of contracting COVID-19 and not being able to complete Matric finals. This seems to have been successful. Matrics have mostly safely managed to complete their final exams and case numbers in Johannesburg have remained low. There is no doubt that Matrics are deserving of a celebration and have earned rest and relaxation time, having made it through this extremely challenging year. As a parent of teenagers I know how difficult it is to say “no”, particularly when all their friends are attending parties or Rage.

Obviously the safest thing to do is to not attend large parties and not attend Rage. Realistically it is difficult to deny teens a celebration after a tough year and some parents have made the decision to allow their teens to go.

My advice would be for each family to do a risk: benefit analysis. Unfortunately there is no way of knowing which younger people will get more severe illness, so attending large gatherings comes with risks attached. Teens with underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, immunocompromised states, obesity or cardiac disease, should not be in crowded places.

By writing these guidelines, it does NOT mean that I am condoning Rage and encouraging kids to go. There is no doubt that it is simply safer to give it a miss this year. However, we need to recognize that Rage is going ahead despite safety concerns and this article is an attempt to encourage safest possible behaviour.

 

If you are attending Rage / end of year parties, here are some tips on how to stay safe :

  • Indoor clubs and bars and any enclosed spaces are an absolute no-no. Rather socialise outside: have parties on the beaches or in parks, and ideally even then with masks and distancing.
  • Keep to smaller gatherings – stick to a “pod” of friends who are your inner circle. When socializing in bigger groups, particularly indoors, the rules of social distancing (staying 1.5metres away from others) and mask wearing should  apply strictly.
  • Be cautious when drinking-  alcohol loosens inhibitions and diminishes responsibility and judgement, leading to Covid protocols breaking down. Have at least one friend designated as the responsible one to stay sober and make decisions for the group each night. (Take turns!)
  • “Let’s talk about sex” – besides sex making social distancing impossible, Rage is traditionally a place where teens are open to putting themselves in dangerous situations. Be aware of drinks being spiked, and be careful not to find yourself alone with strangers who may not be as trustworthy as you perceive. Use the buddy system. Be careful of situations getting out of control and make sure you understand the risks of pregnancy, STDs, HIV and broken hearts.
  • ALCOHOL – please drink responsibly; alcohol poisoning is dangerous and will mean that you spend an unpleasant night in hospital having your stomach pumped. Don’t accept drinks from strangers, don’t leave your drink unattended and watch your drink being made. Consider taking your own plastic glass (plastic tot glasses worn as necklaces around the neck are hot fashion items this year). Be aware that alcohol may not be served at the party venue you are attending. Remember you can have fun without drinking!! If you do want alcohol, avoid buying it in crowded bars. Apparently there is a service available where alcohol can be delivered to your hotel room before the party starts.
  • Sanitise your hands often. Pack antiseptic wipes and sanitiser and use them regularly, especially when in public places.
  • If you get the sense that a venue is not safe, be responsible and leave.
    Rather go with your friends to the beach or a safe outside space. Inside venues should by law have limited capacity and even outside venues should have a limit on numbers of people attending.
  • When using public toilets, keep your mask on, flush with the toilet lid closed and wash hands well.

 

OFFICIAL RAGE COVID PROTOCOLS :

These are listed on their website and have been emailed to participants.

  • COVID screening has to be completed before entry to each event.
  • Masks must be worn at all times when not eating or drinking.
  • Hand sanitiser will be provided.
  • Temperatures will be checked at each event.
  • Tables seating a maximum of ten people are located in designated blocks and dancing is permitted within these blocks.
  • There is a no touch policy on arrival, scanning and bars; however not all venues are cash free.
  • On Rage transport : masks must be worn and windows must be kept open.
  • Some events eg Sound Factory are not allowed to sell alcohol.
  • Parties have set time limits and most will end at 10pm
  • Participants are encouraged to have a COVID test before attending and asked to only attend if they test negative #knowyourstatus campaign.  (I think this is a good idea, but unfortunately it is not compulsory).  (Note that the message on the Rage website about which test is recommended is INCORRECT – the test done should be a PCR swab and not a blood test!)
  • All staff at Rage will allegedly be tested before the start of the festival.
  • There is also an #IsolateBeforeArrival campaign before the festival.
  • There will allegedly be a COVID compliance officer and a medical specialist team available at all events.
  • Ragers with medical proof from a doctor of listed co-morbidities were offered 85% refunds before the end of October. Unfortunately those who chose not to attend out of safety concerns were only offered 50% refunds before end October and 25% refunds if they cancelled up to 7 days before. I think that for this reason as well as parents having paid for non refundable accommodation months ago, many parents have chosen to allow their kids to attend, despite safety concerns.

 

WHAT CAN WE DO AFTER RAGE/ AT RISK EXPOSURES TO MITIGATE RISK?

  •  Certainly if there is anyone vulnerable in the home, the matric would need to quarantine for at least 10 days once they return from Rage, having been exposed to crowds of people.
  • Consider quarantining for at least seven days after returning. A COVID-19 swab could be done on day 5 to 7 after returning ; a negative test then would be reassuring and a positive test would mean the Matric can isolate from the family preventing further spread.

Unfortunately we are likely to see superspreading events such as happened at Tin Roof and overseas a few weeks ago. This could contribute to a massive second surge during the holiday period around the country, as Matrics travel after Rage. This is a plea to Matrics to look after themselves and their families by behaving in a responsible manner.