Braai New Years Eve Lockdown Level 3 regulations
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  • Social gatherings are banned under adjusted Level 3 lockdown regulations, although this isn’t explicitly associated with visiting friends and family.
  • Hosting or attending a New Year’s Eve braai – even if kept small and in compliance with the curfew – could still land you in hot water with the police.
  • Despite being a prime South African pastime, having a braai is not listed as an essential activity.
  • Having a braai, drinking and counting-down the end of 2020 is allowed, so long as you do it in your own home, alone.
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Subdued New Year’s Eve celebrations will be confined indoors, with South Africa’s adjusted Level 3 lockdown regulations enforcing a 21:00 to 06:00 curfew, banning social gatherings, and prohibiting the sale of alcohol. South Africans will still be able to braai in the comfort of their own homes – but hosting visitors or attending other private events could land revellers in trouble with the law.

This doesn’t mean that South Africans can’t have a New Year’s Eve braai, but confusion around the adjusted Level 3 lockdown regulations leaves plenty of room for error. When questioned whether or not South Africans can attend private social gatherings – like a braai at a friend’s house – cooperative governance minister, and National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) lead, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma answered with a resounding “no”.

“All social gatherings are not allowed… private social gatherings are not allowed,” said Dlamini Zuma when addressing an NCCC conference shortly after adjusted Level 3 lockdown regulations were implemented.

Although the most recent version of rules under the Disaster Management Act does not explicitly say friends and family are prohibited from visiting one another, it does specify that any social gathering between 50 people or more would be illegal.

This does not, however, mean that a braai between a small group of friends or family avoids any legal risk.

In addition to the curfew – which states that “every person is confined to his or her place of residence” between 21:00 and 06:00 – and Dlamini Zuma’s own interpretation of the regulations, legal experts have cautioned against hosting or attending private events.

While the reasons are varied, ambiguous regulations and individual interpretations of the Disaster Management Act by law enforcement officials, put South Africans who venture out on New Year’s Eve in danger of arrest.

“She [Dlamini Zuma] could actually be right... I think she got that wrong – but from the fact that if we are under Level 3 lockdown, you may only leave your house for certain reasons,” explained Professor Cathy Powell, Associate Professor in Public Law at the University of Cape Town, in an interview with Cape Talk.

“In the original Level 3 lockdown regulations, there’s a list of reasons for which may leave your house [and] they do not include social visits.”

This reasoning, coupled with Dlamini Zuma’s stern warning, could result in both guests and hosts being arrested, fined, or sentenced to up to six months in jail, if a low-key braai is visited by the police.

Additionally, healthcare professionals and local government officials have warned against visiting friends or family over the festive period. Instead, South Africans have been urged to stay put and stick to their own "bubble", defined as people they live with, in an effort to curb social transmission of the virus. This bubble excludes neighbours.

South Africans who managed to stock up on alcohol before the ban was reintroduced will be able to enjoy a drink, on their own, within the confines of their property. Restaurants and other establishments will close at 20:00 and anybody found outside of their homes after 21:00 – without a valid permit or emergency reason – can be arrested.

(A need to party is not an emergency.)

With the exception of those staying in hotels, guesthouses or other types of holiday accommodation, all South Africans need to be in their own homes during the curfew hours. The South African Police Service (SAPS) has already warned against arranging New Year’s Eve "sleepovers" as a way of bypassing the curfew.

South Africans also need to be aware of "disturbing noise" and "noise nuisance" complaints which may arise from overzealous late-night celebrations on New Year’s Eve. Disturbing noise, which can be caused by loud music or shouting, is governed by municipal by-laws and, as such, is tolerated up until a certain hour according to the city you live in.

Any disturbing noise reported after midnight, even on New Year’s Eve, may result in a visit by the police.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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