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COVID-19 lockdown levels explained

Written by Dale Hes

South Africans can help the nation reopen for business and leisure by adhering to the prevailing restrictions.

South Africa has officially moved to Level Four lockdown restrictions, put in place to slow the spread COVID-19 the coronavirus disease.

COVID-19 infections in South Africa continue to rise and the virus poses a significant threat to our country. Government has thus taken a careful approach, consisting of five lockdown levels, to fully reopen the economy.

Level Four explained

South Africa moved from Level Five to Level Four on 1 May.

Government’s regulations for Level Four include: 

  • In addition to essential services, some other businesses may open, including those that sell baby clothes, bedding, winter clothing and stationery. Hardware suppliers and vehicle maintenance businesses can open, and factories that support these businesses can start manufacturing.  
  • Restaurants can sell food, but deliveries only.   
  • A curfew has been put in place. You may not leave your home between 8pm and 5am, unless you have an essential worker permit or need urgent medical attention. 
  • You may leave your home to exercise, but only between 6am and 9am. However, you must stay within 5km of your home and cannot exercise in groups.  
  • Fabric face masks are now mandatory. You have to wear one when leaving your home. 
  • Tobacco products and alcohol are still not allowed to be sold. 
  • Domestic workers and childminders who live at private households can return to work. 
  • Businesses that open must have strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place.
  • You may only travel between provinces for funerals or to return to work or home. 
  • You may still not visit family or friends.
  • You can use public transport, such as trains and buses, under strict conditions.  

The relaxed lockdown will allow around 1.5 million workers to return to work, as shops and industries such as mining and agriculture start expanding their operations.  

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma reminded South Africans that Level Four does not mean that the lockdown is over. As infections around the country continue to increase, it is important for all citizens to continue to follow regulations so that the healthcare system is not overwhelmed, she says.

“Let me say again, briefly, that Level Four does not mean the lockdown has ended. Stay in your home. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance from other people,” the Minister says. 

Level Three

Government will base a decision to move down to Level Three on various factors, such as the rate of new COVID-19 infections. When the virus spread is less and the healthcare system can cope with the spread, the lockdown will move to Level Three.

The regulations under Level Three include:

  • All workers will be allowed to return to work at factories. All workplaces must have COVID-19 prevention measures in place. 
  • Alcohol sales will be permitted from Monday to Wednesday, between 8am and 12pm. You will only be allowed to buy alcohol to drink at home. Bars and shebeens will remain closed. 
  • Restaurants will only be able to deliver orders. 
  • More businesses will be allowed to open, allowing more workers to get back to work. These include employees in sectors such as vehicle manufacturing, construction, clothing, real estate and gardening.
  • Limited travel, including travel between provinces, will be allowed in some circumstances. 
  • Laundry and dry-cleaning services will be permitted. 

Level Two

A move down to Level Two will see more regulations eased, as the virus spreads at a low level and our healthcare system is fully prepared. 

Level Two regulations include:

  • Manufacturing to be scaled up to 100 percent employment.
  • All retail will be permitted. 
  • Business travel will be allowed.
  • Accommodation will be opened for business travellers. 
  • Restaurants can open for takeaways and delivery. 
  • Travel between provinces will be allowed. 

Level One

Level One is the scenario that government is aiming for. This will only happen when there is minimal spread of the virus and if South Africans adhere to regulations in the higher lockdown levels. 

Under Level One, most activities and businesses will be permitted, but COVID-19 prevention guidelines, such as social distancing and proper hygiene, will still have to be followed. 

It is important for all South Africans to work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 so that we can all return to work and see our country returning to  normal.