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Overseas trips & a midnight curfew: This is life in lockdown level 1

You can hang out with your friends for two hours longer but night clubs are still off limits. Here’s what else is new.

Resource details:

Publication title: Disaster Management Act regulations: Alert Level 1 during coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown
Author(s): The department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs
Publication date: 18 September 2020

What the guidelines are about:

As part of the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, a risk system was created based on the country’s COVID-19 cases and health system capacity. At 00:01 Monday 21 September the country will move to the lowest of the five alert levels — level 1. These guidelines outline which restrictions stay in place and which are lifted under the new risk level. People who fail to follow the regulations could pay a fine or face prison time of up to 6 months.

Key take-aways from the guidelines:

Still on the cards

  • Face masks are still mandatory when out in public except when participating in intensive exercise. The country still has a curfew, but the time restrictions have changed. Under level 1 people should be home between midnight and four AM daily (00:00 and 4:00). The only exceptions to this regulation are people with the authorised permission to be out, or those responding to security or medical emergencies.

What’s still off limits? 

  • Nightclub doors remain closed under the new alert level.
  • Visiting prisons, holding cells, retirement homes and medical facilities (unless receiving treatment) is prohibited.
  • Both male and female initiation practices are not allowed under level 1.

Alcohol under level 1

  • You can now buy alcohol between 09:00 to 17:00 on weekdays to drink at home. No sales are allowed on weekends and public holidays.
  • Buying alcohol to drink at a restaurant or bar is permitted all week until midnight.

Travelling abroad

  • You can now travel to and from South Africa under lockdown level 1 — but with limitations.
  • Travel to South Africa is allowed if the country of departure has a low rate of COVID-19 infection and transmission. Should a country have a high rate of COVID-19 infection and transmission, travel from the country will remain banned except for approved business travel.
  • Travel from all African countries is allowed. 
  • All travellers must produce a negative COVID-19 test no older than three days (72 hours) otherwise, the traveler will be required to quarantine at their own expense.
  • International flights will be restricted to three airports: OR Tambo International Airport; King Shaka International Airport; and Cape Town International Airport.

[Update 16 November 2020: in a speech presented on 11 November President Cyril Ramaphosa announced alcohol regulations would be updated to allow for normal trading hours. “We are amending the alert level 1 regulations to restore the normal trading hours for the sale of alcohol at retail outlets.” Read the amended regulations here.]

Attending funerals

  • Only 100 people can attend a funeral. Social distancing, wearing face masks and related COVID-19 health protocols must still be followed. 
  • Night vigils are still prohibited.

Gatherings under alert level 1

  • Facility owners should clearly display the venue’s capacity.
  • Churches and other faith-based institutions are allowed no more than 250 people in an indoor venue, or 500 people in an outdoor venue — provided this does not exceed the venue’s 50 percent threshold capacity while allowing for social distancing.
  • Conferences, meetings, political and social events along with recreational gatherings are allowed under level 1. But no more than 250 people can attend these gatherings at indoor venues, no more than 500 people at an outdoor venue — provided the venue’s 50 percent threshold is not exceeded.  
  • The following places are allowed only 50 percent of the venue’s capacity: casinos, gyms, fitness facilities, bars, taverns, hotels and timeshare facilities.  

Home and work 

You can find and download the guidelines here.

[Please note: Information on the new coronavirus is rapidly changing. Please refer to the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs website for the latest information. Visit for updates on South Africa’s coronavirus response.]