Adjusted Level 3 lockdown laws and regulations
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 16: Mounted police during beach closures on December 16, 2020 in Durban, South Africa. The beach promenade walk remained open. This follows new lockdown regulations given by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the 14th of December. There was a heavy police presence at Durban beaches to ensure that regulations are adhered to. (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images via Getty Images)
  • Regulations impacting the sale of alcohol, curfew, social gatherings, beaches, mask-wearing, and bars have been officially gazetted.
  • The move from Level 1 lockdown to adjusted Level 3 lockdown also places 26 districts on the hotspot list. They are subject to tighter restrictions.
  • Adjusted Level 3 lockdown regulations are due to be reviewed on 15 January 2021.
  • For more articles, go to

South Africa will spend the next two weeks under an adjusted Level 3 lockdown, as hospitals struggle to cope with the resurgence of Covid-19 cases. New regulations regarding the sale of alcohol, curfew, social gatherings, and access to beaches were gazetted on Tuesday morning.

On Monday night, a tearful President Cyril Ramaphosa first criticised South Africans for failing to comply with basic health and safety protocols, then pleaded with citizens to adhere to tougher regulations amid a sudden upswell of coronavirus-related hospitalisations. With more than one million cumulative infections and 134,000 active cases – representing a seven-day surge of 23% – the President announced that the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) had resolved to implement further lockdown restrictions for the remainder of the festive season.

Amendments to rules under the Disaster Management Act, which governs South Africa’s risk-adjusted approach to the Covid-19 pandemic, were officially gazetted by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

The changes from Level 1 lockdown to an adjusted Level 3 lockdown are far-reaching and include a host of new hotspot areas which will be subjected to even tighter restrictions.

Sale and dispensing of alcohol

Citing the immense strain placed on already-stressed healthcare resources due to alcohol-related trauma cases, the NCCC resolved to ban all alcohol sales under the adjusted lockdown regulations.

The sale of liquor for both on-site and off-site consumption is prohibited. Neither restaurants nor bottle stores will be able to sell alcohol. This extends to wineries.

Social gatherings

Super-spreader events, defined as large uncontrolled social gatherings with limited mask use and social-distancing protocols, have been cited as a key factor in coronavirus’ resurgence.

All social gatherings, including faith-based gatherings, political events, and traditional council meetings are prohibited for two weeks. Gathering at a public park is also prohibited.

Gatherings at cinemas, theatres, casinos, museums, galleries, libraries, gyms, and restaurants are permitted in line with capacity limitations.


Only 50 people will be allowed to attend a funeral service. If the venue is too small to accommodate 50 people, then only 50% of the venue’s capacity may be used, while ensuring at least 1.5m social distancing between all attendees. Additionally, the duration of funeral services may not exceed two hours.

After-funeral gatherings, including "after-tears" gatherings, are prohibited.

Beaches and swimming pools

While beaches in non-hotspot districts will be accessible to the public between 06:00 and 19:00, almost all regions along South Africa’s coastline – the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal – have been listed as hotspots.

Only two coastal districts, Namakwa District Municipality in the Northern Cape and Umkhanyakude District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, have avoided hotspot regulations, allowing beaches in those regions to remain open.

See also | You can still go to the beach in South Africa – but only in these two far-flung districts

All other beaches in South Africa remain closed to the public.

Access to public swimming pools throughout South Africa is prohibited.


The new curfew, beginning at 21:00 and ending at 06:00, requires all people to be indoors during those hours. The only exception extends to valid permit holders who provide a service as defined by the relevant Cabinet minister. The following establishments have been ordered to close at 20:00:

  • cinemas
  • theatres
  • casinos
  • museums, galleries, and archives
  • gyms and fitness centres
  • restaurants
  • venues hosting auctions
  • venues hosting professional sport

See also | Chaos as SA’s sudden new curfew sees flights bumped and airline call centres overwhelmed

Borders and travel

Travel regulations remain largely unchanged from Level 1 lockdown, with no limitations on inter-provincial movement. Although Ramaphosa urged citizens to avoid travelling to or from Covid-19 hotspots, no order has been gazetted within the Disaster Management Act.

International travellers entering South Africa will still need to follow all protocols, including the submission of a negative Covid-19 PCR test result.

The 18 land borders which were open during Level 1 lockdown, will remain open. The 34 land borders which were closed, will remain closed, with the exception of Kosibay Port which will open on 1 January 2021.

Access to passenger ships for international leisure purposes is still prohibited.

Regulations concerning public transport – including capacity limitations and mask-wearing – remain unchanged from Level 1 lockdown.

Mandatory mask-wearing

The wearing of a mask in public has been made mandatory, with non-compliance punishable with a prison term up to six months or fine, or both. Ramaphosa cited South Africans’ failure to mask-up when in public as a leading cause of the virus’ spread.

A face mask, defined as a cloth face mask or a homemade item that covers the nose and mouth, must be worn by all persons in public. Refusal to comply with instructions from a law enforcement officer to wear a mask constitutes a criminal offence.

Masks must be worn at all times when:

  • Using public transport
  • Entering or moving through a building
  • In a public space

The only time a face mask is not required in public is when the person “undertakes vigorous exercise”, the definition of which is expected to be clarified.

Places and premises closed to the public

Nightclubs, bars, taverns and shebeens will be closed during adjusted Level 3 lockdown. Public parks, swimming pools and other public recreational facilities, which lack access control measures, will also be closed to the public.

Initiation ceremonies

No new initiation ceremonies will be permitted during adjusted Level 3 lockdown. Initiations already underway in the Eastern Cape will be allowed to conclude.

Hotspot regulations

The main difference between hotspot restrictions and national regulations is the prohibition of access to beaches, dams, lakes, and rivers in 26 districts listed as follows:

  • Eastern Cape - Chris Hani District, Buffalo City, Amathole District, Alfred Nzo District and the OR Tambo District. These are in addition to Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and the Sarah Baartman District, which have already been declared hotspots.
  • Western Cape - the West Coast District, Overberg District, Winelands District, Cape Town, Central Karoo District. This is in addition to the Garden Route District.
  • KwaZulu-Natal - eThekwini, Umgungundlovu District, Ugu District, Harry Gwala District, King Cetshwayo District and Ilembe District. 
  • Gauteng - the West Rand District, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, and Johannesburg are declared hotspots.
  • North West - Bojanala District
  • Limpopo - the Waterberg District and the Capricorn District

Receive a daily news update on your cellphone. Or get the best of our site emailed to you

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.