A Cape Vulture at the National Zoo in Pretoria in August 2012. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Alet Pretorius)
  • Zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, and game parks now have specified opening and closing times under the new Level 3, after some initial confusion.
  • Though beaches are closed, various access-controlled attractions may continue to operate.
  • Game parks in particular were confused about how new curfew times would affect them.
  • Zoos and their ilk may open only from 09:00, but game parks can operate from 06:00.
  • Everyone must close their gates by 18:00
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It's official: you can go for a game drive starting just a little bit after sunrise under South Africa's new Alert Level 3, though you have to wait until later in the morning to go to the zoo.

On Tuesday, following some confusion, co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma gazetted a brief update to lockdown rules specifically for attractions rooted in nature.

While beaches are closed until at least mid-January, outdoor attractions with access control mechanisms may accept visitors. But with a newly extended curfew, game parks had not been clear on when they may take guests on outings, and municipalities had been left puzzled about when they may open the gates to zoos.

In terms of the newly amended rules, all aquariums, botanical gardens, game parks, and zoos must close by 18:00 every day at the latest, an hour or two before sunset, and three hours before curfew starts.

But game parks may open at 06:00 every morning – about half an hour after sunrise depending on where you are – while aquariums, botanical gardens, and zoos may only operate from 09:00 in the morning.

The hours apply equally to declared hotspots and non-hotspot zones.

On Tuesday SANParks said its national parks would continue to operate during the new lockdown level, for both day visitors and those in overnight accommodation, but it urged day visitors to book ahead so they are not caught on the wrong side of a quota system.

The Johannesburg Zoo cancelled its Festival of Lights on Tuesday, before the publication of the new operating hours. The event had been sold out.

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