You can be on the beach at midnight but you can’t drink: SA’s new lockdown rules unpacked

Business Insider SA
No drinking allowed
  • As of Thursday, South Africa no longer has a curfew, and indoor gathering limits have been bumped up to 1,000 people.
  • The crowd rules specifically apply to conferences and sporting events too.
  • And the dropped curfew specifically means churches are free to do midnight services to see in the new year. 
  • But you still can't drink on the beach, either at midnight or at any other time.
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South Africa no longer has a curfew.

On Thursday night, the Presidency announced a package of lockdown rule changes – formally activated a short while later through publication in the Government Gazette – that dropped restrictions on booze sales, bumped indoor gatherings to a maximum of 1,000 people, and ended the rules on when you have to be home.

That put in place most of the components for New Year's Eve parties along the lines of pre-pandemic days.

See also | Party on: Curfew, booze restrictions will be dropped, govt just announced

The rule changes also apply to churches, gyms, conference centres, and sporting venues, all of which are included in the new gatherings limit.

But thanks to remaining rules, you still can't drink on the beach or in a park at the stroke of midnight, or at any other time.

Here's what South Africa's new Adjusted Alert Level 1 rules mean.

Gyms and conference centres may now host 1,000 people indoors...

The broad restriction of 1,000 people who may gather indoors, and 2,000 outdoors, has been specifically extended to conferences and gyms, which were previously limited to 750 people for indoor venues.

Other rules remain in place, which means any venue too small to hold 1,000 people with suitable social distancing is limited to 50% of its usual capacity. 

... and sporting venues too

Since 11 October, spectators have been allowed at sporting matches, with a limit set to 2,000 people at outdoor venues and 750 indoor. Thursday's update brings that indoor number in line with the general restriction of 1,000 people for any social, cultural, or political event, explicitly allowing 1,000 spectators at indoor sporting events.

As before – and as with other events – venues that can't hold that many people with at least 1.5 metres of distance between them are, instead, limited to 50% of their usual capacity.

Churches can have midnight services

Curfew was dropped by the repeal of the entire section dealing with when people are required to be home – and when specific establishments must close.

That means the 23:00 closing time (set an hour before the general curfew so staff could get home) has been dropped for gyms, theatres, and churches too, not just restaurants, bars, and shebeens.

That leaves free any faith-based gathering any time of the day or night.

The only closing-time rules that still apply are those usually enforced by city bylaws, liquor licences, or other regulations. 

You can be on the beach at midnight – but you can't drink

Beaches, public parks, and casinos also previously had a closing times, set an hour before curfew, so at 23:00 in the most recent iteration. That would have made it illegal to see in 2022 on the beach.

With those curfew-related restrictions dropped, you can use any beach as you normally would. But you definitely can't drink.

Though other liquor rules have been dropped entirely, it remains illegal to drink in any public place that is not licensed to sell alcohol. Doing so could still come with a fine, or up to six months in jail.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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