On 25 March 2020, the Regulations made under the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 were amended to provide more clarity of what is allowed and not allowed during the lockdown starting on 26 March 2020 at 23H59 and ending on 16 April 2020 at 23H59.

It has been made very clear that everyone is to remain at home and may only leave their homes in certain instances. No gatherings are allowed during the lockdown and the 100 people limit will not apply anymore. However, there are still a lot of questions on people’s minds like “but what if I just want to…”. When you want to leave your house, ask whether it is for one of the following reasons:

  • render an essential service – if this is the case, you will need written authorisation from the head of the institution providing the essential services;
  • get essential services and/or goods;
  • seek emergency, life-saving or chronic medical attention;
  • collect a social grant; or
  • attend a funeral – a gathering at a funeral may not be more than 50 people.

What are essential services?

  • The Regulations contain a complete list of essential services and they all come down to the services everyone needs to take care of their basic needs. For example:
    • medical services;
    • emergency services;
    • financial services to maintain banking and payment functions;
    • grocery stores selling essential goods;
    • essential municipal services, including services relating to electricity, water and fuel;
    • services relating to essential functioning of courts;
    • public and private security, such as the South African Police Service; and
    • transport services for persons rendering essential services.

What are essential goods?

  • The Regulations contain a complete list of essential goods and, just like essential services, relates to the basic needs of everyone. For example:
    • Food – any food product, non-alcoholic beverages and animal food;
    • cleaning and hygiene products – toilet paper, hand sanitiser, disinfectants, soap, and household cleaning products;
    • medical and hospital supplies;
    • fuel, coal and gas; and
    • basic goods, including airtime and electricity.
  • A store that is allowed to remain open during the lockdown is only allowed to sell essential goods. This would mean that a store is not allowed to sell alcohol or tobacco products.

Which places will be open during the lockdown?

  • Only places involved in the provision of essential services or goods are allowed to remain open to the public during the lockdown.
  • This means that places where religious, cultural, sporting recreational or similar activities usually take place must be closed. This also includes public parks, beaches, casinos, flea markets, open air food markets, hotels and so on.
  • Places selling alcohol, such as taverns, shebeens, bottle stores and areas in supermarkets where alcohol is sold must be closed and the alcohol must be removed off the shelves in supermarkets.
  • Shopping malls and centres will also be closed, except for grocery stores and pharmacies. This means that theatres and cinemas will also be closed.

Can I still go for a jog or take my children to the other parent if we have joint care (custody)?

  • If it is not for one of the reasons mentioned above, then you are not allowed to leave your home.
  • This means that you are not allowed to walk your dogs or go for a run.
  • It would also mean that if you are a parent that shares joint care over their children, you will not be able to take your children to the other parent, unless specific regulations are provided for in this regard.

Can I still use public transport?

  • All public transport is suspended, unless it is for the reasons mentioned above. This would include taxi services, bus services, e-hailing services and private motor vehicles.
  • These vehicles are also limited to only carry passengers not more than 50% of the vehicle’s capacity and to ensure that the necessary safety measures are taken.

It is important for everyone to comply with these measures put in place to avoid facing criminal charges. The purpose of the lockdown is to limit the spreading of the COVID-19 virus and is in the benefit of everyone’s health. Everyone must do their bit to flatten the curve.