On the 26th of March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa using the Disaster Management Act placed South Africa on what would be the first of many lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The first lockdown was Alert Level 5 which was in place from midnight on the 26 till the 31st of May. South Africans were asked to work and learn from home, only leave to buy essential goods, and adhere to the strict protocols that came with the level.

Many found being cooped indoors, not being allowed to visit friends and family or not being to get take-away food unbearable.

While others took the time to learn how to bake or knit, others saw it as an opportunity to catch up on some reading and many others worked on achieving their body goals by exercising at home.

As others bemoaned not being permitted to buy cigarettes and alcohol during this level, others missed simple pleasures like surfing or running on the open road.

Unfortunately, this level came with it the increased number of gender-based violence.

Surprising and shocking

Dr. Lesley Ann Foster of the Masimanyane Women’s International Rights group says the spike in GBV cases during this period has been surprising and shocking. She says they’ve noted some worrying trends during the lockdown.

“One of the other things that we are picking up is that we manage three Thuthuzela centres – these are 24-hour post-rape support services and we are seeing a spike in the number of incest cases and marital rape. That also has to do with the lockdown period and I think that’s quite a shock to the system to see and the numbers are rising quite a lot.”

Foster says the lockdown has undoubtedly created greater vulnerability as women are subjected to constant violence.

Masimanyane has had to take women into different shelters during this time, which has been challenging.

In the video below the increase of GBV is looked at:






































Alert Level 4

According to South Africa’s risk-adjustment strategy for economic activity, Level 4 was expected to be “moderate to high virus spread, with moderate readiness.” In a bid to resume economic activity, the president announced that the country would go into alert Level 4 from the 1st of May till the 31st of May 2020.

However, some leisure and social activities were still prohibited during these lockdown levels.

Below are the 10 things that must be known about Level 4 lockdown.

  1. Wearing cloth masks compulsory
  2. Curfew 8pm-5am
  3. No alcohol and cigarettes can be sold
  4. Outside exercise 6am-9am
  5. More businesses to operate
  6. No public gatherings
  7. Food delivery from 9am-7pm, no take away, no sit-in
  8. Limited public transport
  9. Vehicle recovery services allowed
  10. No international travel



Alert Level 3

As the coronavirus infection rate declined and people were following the rules and protocols put in place by the Health Department, President Ramaphosa moved the country to alert Level 3 on the 1st of June 2020 till the 18th of August.

This level allowed for restricted alcohol sales and certain hours and the reopening of schools and many industries.

Back to school

Grades 7 and 12 learners were allowed to return to school on the 8th of June after the Department of Basic Education conceded that all schools were not ready to open on June 1.

Back to work

As more places of work and industries opened up for business during alert Level 3, Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi noted that workers had the right to refuse to go to work if they feel employers have not taken the necessary precautions to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus in the workplace.

Workers were required to wear masks in the workplace at all times and employers were asked to provide at least two reusable face masks, free of charge.

Businesses returning to work under this level were also required to appoint a COVID-19 compliance officer, undertake risk assessment of the workplace and develop a plan for the return to work.

Nxesi called on employers, both public and private, to mitigate the worst effects of the pandemic.

In the video below, the economic cluster briefs the media on Level 3 COVID-19 lockdown regulations:

Transport regulations and guidelines

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula announced that domestic flights would be allowed to operate under strict health standards.

The minister clarified that domestic airline travel will be limited to business travel.

Non-contact Sport Resumes

Under alert Level 3 all professional non-contact sport resumed, however, without spectators.

Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said all professional athletes who participate in contact and non-contact sport were also allowed to start training.

The minister asked sport managers to write to the department detailing a plan of activities, also giving the assurance that athletes and technical staff would be tested for the coronavirus prior to the resumption of activity.

Alert Level 2

In the following months, as the coronavirus infection and death rates fluctuated, the country was moved to an alert Level 2 from the 18th of August 2020 till the 20th of September.

During this level, alcohol sales at restaurants, bars and taverns were allowed until 10 pm. Family and social visits were also allowed and the ban on interprovincial travel was lifted.

Alert Level 2

After countless lockdowns and restrictions, President Ramaphosa finally moved the country to alert Level 1 lockdown from midnight on the 21st September 2020 till the 28th of December 2020. This allowed people to better enjoy the festive season but it also saw a huge increase in the coronavirus infection and death rate.

The amended lockdown level 1 regulations also allowed for international travel under strict regulations. Regulations relating to the sale of alcohol were also relaxed.

In December 2020, the alarming death and infection rate left the government with no option but to place the country back to an adjusted alert Level 3 in order to slow down the coronavirus spread.

The adjusted alert level 3 was in place from the 29th of that month until the publishing of new alert level 1 regulations in Government Gazette on the 28th of February 2021.

The President said South Africa has clearly emerged from the second wave of coronavirus.   

Under Level 1, the curfew starts at midnight and ends at 4am.  

Gatherings are allowed but must be limited to 100 people indoors and 250 people outdoors.  

Night vigils after funerals are still not permitted.  

Alcohol sales are allowed in normal trading hours but are not allowed during curfew hours.

The 33 land border posts that have been closed throughout this period will remain closed, while the other 20 will remain open,” Ramaphosa says.  

Five airports will be open

Only five airports will be open for international travel with standard infection control measures. These are OR Tambo, Cape Town, King Shaka, Kruger Mpumalanga and Lanseria airports. 

President Ramaphosa says people must still adhere to protocols like wearing masks, which remain mandatory. 

’11 million vaccine doses’ 

Ramaphosa says South Africa has secured 11 million COVID-19 vaccine doses with Johnson & Johnson.

“2.8 million of those doses will be delivered in the second quarter, with the rest spread over the rest of the year.”

Over 67 000 healthcare workers have already been vaccinated. 

The President says the success of the vaccine rollout shows what can be achieved when South Africans work together. He says South Africa has clearly emerged from the second wave of the coronavirus.  

Ramaphosa says this is mainly because people adhere to protocols. But he has warned of the new variant. 

The new variant – known as 501Y.v2 – is now the dominant variant in the country. Because the new variant is transmitted more easily, it has the potential to infect more people, place a greater strain on our health system and lead to a greater loss of life. Therefore, social distancing is even more critical,” says Ramaphosa. 

President Ramaphosa addresses the Nation on COVID-19 response:

SA under Alert Lockdown Level 1: