When is the lockdown taking place?

From 11:59 pm on Thursday, 26 March 11:59 pm on Thursday 16 April, all South Africans will have to stay at home, unless strictly for the purpose of performing an essential service, obtaining an essential good or service, collecting a social grant, or seeking emergency, life-saving, or chronic medical attention


Can a funeral take place?

Yes, funerals will be allowed to take place with the number of mourners restricted to 50. However, night vigils will be prohibited.


Can I travel to another province or district?

No, movement between provinces is prohibited; and movement between the metropolitan and district areas, is prohibited.


Will shops remain open?

Retail shops and shopping malls must be closed, except where essential goods are sold and on condition that the person in control of the said store must put in place controls to ensure that customers keep a distance of at least one square meter from each other, and that all directions in respect of hygienic conditions and the exposure of persons to COVID-19 are adhered to.

Retail stores selling essential goods is prohibited from selling any other goods.

Any place not involved in the provision of an essential good or service must remain closed to all persons for the duration of the lockdown.


Which goods are essential?

  1. Food
    (i) Any food product, including non-alcoholic beverages;
    (ii) Animal food; and
    (iii) Chemicals, packaging and ancillary products used in the production of any food product.
  2. Cleaning and Hygiene Products
    (i) Toilet Paper, sanitary pads, sanitary tampons, condoms;
    (ii) Hand sanitiser, disinfectants, soap, alcohol for industrial use, household cleaning products, and personal protective equipment; and
    (iii) Chemicals, packaging and ancillary products used in the production of any of the above.
  3. Medical:
    (i) Medical and Hospital Supplies, equipment and personal protective equipment; and
    (ii) Chemicals, packaging and ancillary products used in the production of any of the above.
  4. Fuel, including coal and gas
  5. Basic goods, including airtime and electricity. (https://www.gov.za/speeches/minister-ebrahim-patel-trading-during-coronavirus-covid-19-lockdown-27-mar-2020-0000)
  6. Products for care of babies and toddlers. (https://www.gov.za/speeches/minister-ebrahim-patel-trading-during-coronavirus-covid-19-lockdown-27-mar-2020-0000)
  7. Personal toiletries, including haircare, body and face wash, roll-ons, deodorants, toothpaste


Which services are essential?

Categories of essential services shall be confined to the following services:

  1. Medical, Health (including Mental Health), Laboratory and Medical services;
  2. Disaster Management, Fire Prevention, Fire Fighting and Emergency services;
  3. Financial services necessary to maintain the functioning of the banking and payments environment, including the JSE and similar exchanges, as well as Insurance services;
  4. Production and sale of the goods listed in category A, above;
  5. Grocery stores, including spaza shops;
  6. Electricity, water, gas and fuel production, supply and maintenance;
  7. Critical jobs for essential government services as determined by Head of National or Provincial Departments in accordance with the guidance by the DPSA, including Social Grant Payments;
  8. Birth and death certificates, and replacement identification documents;
  9. Essential municipal services;
  10. Care services and social relief of distress provided to older persons, mentally ill, persons with disabilities, the sick, and children;
  11. Funeral services, including mortuaries;
  12. Wildlife Management, Anti-poaching, Animal Care and Veterinary services;
  13. Newspaper, broadcasting and telecommunication infrastructure and services;
  14. Production and sale of any chemicals, hygiene products, pharmaceuticals for the medical or retail sector;
  15. Cleaning, sanitation, sewerage, waste and refuse removal services;
  16. Services related to the essential functioning of courts, judicial officers, the Master of the High Court, Sheriffs and legal practitioners required for those services;
  17. Essential SARS services defined by the Commissioner of SARS;
  18. Police, peace officers, traffic officers, military medical personnel and soldiers, correctional services officials and traffic management services;
  19. Postal services and courier services related to transport of medical products;
  20. Private security services;
  21. Air-traffic Navigation, Civil Aviation Authority, Cargo Shipping and dockyard services;
  22. Gold, gold refinery, coal and essential mining;
  23. Accommodation used for persons rendering essential services, quarantine, isolation and the lockdown;
  24. Production, manufacturing, supply, logistics, transport, delivery, critical maintenance and repair in relation to the rendering of essential services including components and equipment;
  25. Transport services for persons rendering essential services and goods, and transportation of patients;
  26. Services rendered by the Executive, members of Parliament, Members of the Provincial Legislature, Members of Local Councils, the Judiciary, traditional leaders and National Office Bearers. of Political Parties represented in Parliament;
  27. Commissioners of the South African Human Rights Commission, Gender Commission, and the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, and the Public Protector and Deputy Public Protector; and
  28. Transport and logistics in respect of essential goods as set out in A above to neighboring countries.

Updated by Trade and Industry on 27 March (https://www.gov.za/speeches/minister-ebrahim-patel-trading-during-coronavirus-covid-19-lockdown-27-mar-2020-0000)

  1. Tow trucks and vehicle recovery services;
  2. Call centres necessary to provide health, safety, social support, government and financial services;
  3. Harvesting and storage activities essential to prevent the wastage of primary agricultural goods;
  4. Implementation of payroll systems to the extent that such arrangement has not been made for the lockdown, to ensure timeous payments to workers; and
  5. Critical maintenance services which cannot be delayed for more than 21 days, and are essential to resume operations after the lockdown.


Is the selling of liquor allowed?

No, the selling of liquor is strictly prohibited. This is applicable also to supermarkets with liquor licences. No liquor will be sold anywhere by anyone during the 21-day period of the lockdown. Equally, the movement of liquor between any two points is also strictly prohibited as per the COVID-19 Disaster Management Regulations.


Can I claim Unemployment Insurance?

As the Department of Employment and Labour, we are receiving concerns from workers and unions that some employers are seeking to shift the burden of the lockdown onto the workers, using their annual leave as the first line of response to the lockdown.

This despite the fact that we have said that the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) will fund and put in place systems to address the lay-offs during the lockdown in relation to workers registered for UIF.

It is important that all parties understand that the UIF cannot deal with millions of individual claims – this would lead to chaos. Rather we have put in place systems to pay out UIF benefits through companies, sectoral associations and bargaining councils. Indeed the Textile Bargaining Council has already concluded such an agreement with labour.

We need to stress that such arrangements require that we enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with employer bodies including that their use of the monies will be subject to audit. This has led to some resistance from some employers. They need to understand that these are public funds that by law have to be audited. None of us have a choice in the matter.

I urge all parties to get together and engage so that we can expedite the payment of these monies to the workers that need them. The UIF staff is available to assist in any way necessary. UIF Call Centre (012) 337 1997.


Pandemic declaration

What does the WHO pandemic declaration mean?

The declaration allows governments to activate preparedness plans and undertake emergency procedures to protect the public, such as travel and trade restrictions.


When is a pandemic declared?

Generally, the WHO will declare a pandemic when there is sustained community outbreaks on different continents.


When was the last global pandemic?

The WHO last declared in 2009 for the H1N1 flu.


What is the difference between an outbreak, epidemic and pandemic?

An outbreak is a sudden rise in cases of a disease in a particular place. An epidemic is a large outbreak. A pandemic means a global epidemic.


Does a pandemic reflect the severity of a disease?

A pandemic has nothing to do with how serious an illness is. It just means a disease is spreading widely and at an alarming rate.


Coronavirus information


What can I do to minimise the risk of infection?

The virus is very susceptible to common anti-bacterial cleaning agents such as bleach, and alcohol-based cleaners (60% volume). Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Maintain at least 1 metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unclean hands.


What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation is a way to keep yourself from possibly infecting others if you think you might be infected. It involves limiting contact with public places, relatives, friends, colleagues, and public transport.


I have flu like symptoms, should I get tested?

The symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or fever.  However, these are also symptoms of the flu. The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) recommends that you should only get tested if you display symptoms plus:

  • Been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 person;
  • Travelled to a high risk country;
  • Worked in or been to a healthcare facility treating people with Covid-19;
  • Have a severe case of pneumonia with an unknown cause.

However, one should consult your medical practitioner immediately if you display symptoms.


Where should I go if I want to test for COVID-19?

If you think you might have contracted the virus, you can call the NICD helpline (0800 029 999) and you will be advised on possible testing facilities. However, testing is not routinely done unless testing is indicated by a health professional therefore one would need to be assessed by your medical practitioner in order to qualify for testing.


What happens if I test positive?

Anyone who tests positive will immediately be notified and put into quarantine at home or at a facility designated to manage the outbreak. You will then remain in quarantine until repeat testing shows you no longer have the virus.


How much does the test cost?

Public sector testing is free of charge. Private laboratories such as Lancet, Ampath and Pathcare can also test for SARS-CoV-2. Enquiry should be with the respective laboratory for their costing of the test. If going via a private lab, it is advisable to check with your medical aid to ascertain if they will cover the costs for the test.


How is COVID-19 infection treated?

There is no specific treatment available for SARS-CoV-2. Treatment is supportive (e.g. providing oxygen for patients with shortness of breath or managing a fever). Antibiotics do not treat viral infections. However, antibiotics may be required if a secondary bacterial infection develops. Currently there is a vaccine being developed.


Which hospitals will treat COVID-19 infected patients?

The following hospitals have also been identified as centres for isolation and treatment of people infected with Coronavirus:

  • Polokwane Hospital in Limpopo;
  • Rob Ferreira Hospital in Mpumalanga;
  • Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, Steve Biko Hospital and Tembisa Hospitals in Gauteng;
  • Grace Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal;
  • Klerksdorp Hospital in the North West;
  • Kimberly Hospital in the Northern Cape;
  • Pelonomi Hospital in the Free State;
  • Livingstone Hospital in the Eastern Cape; and
  • Tygerberg Hospital in the Western Cape.


Can I go to school or work?

Anyone who is sick or displaying symptoms should not go to school or work. If you have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, you should self-isolate for 14 days from the date of close contact. If you are concerned, contact your medical practitioner for further advice.


What is the plan of the Department of Basic Education, what should we do as teachers?

Protocols have been developed and distributed to provinces and districts in the country. However, it is especially important to encourage children and staff to take every day preventative actions to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. This includes staying at home when sick, washing hands with soap and water or using an alcohol based hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol and cleaning frequently touched surfaces. If children do become ill, they should be strictly isolated at home. In situations where the child or staff member becomes sick at school, they should be separated from healthy students and staff until sick students and staff can be sent home.


Virus myths

Can the virus spread through food items?

The Coronaviruses is spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food it is important to always rinse the food with water and wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety.


Can I get the virus through handling or receiving packages or products?   

It is possible that one may touch the SARS-CoV-2 virus while handling packages contaminated by the virus however, one may only contract the virus or be affected by it when the virus comes into contact with your mucosal membranes (mouth, tongue or nose) thus entering your body. This is not the main means of transmission. Inhaling respiratory droplets is the main way the virus spreads.

The virus does not survive well on surfaces, therefore there is a lower risk of it spreading from products or packages that are shipped or delivered over a period of time.


Does warm weather kill the virus?

The SARS-CoV-2 virus does not survive well in warmer climates. It is therefore expected to thrive in the colder winter seasons.


Who is at higher risk of getting the virus?

Those at higher risk of contracting the virus include the elderly and individuals with chronic conditions or a compromised immune system. Chronic conditions include high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and lung disease amongst others.


What should I do if I am at higher risk of getting the virus?

If you are at higher risk of getting the virus, you should take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others. When you go out, try to avoid unnecessary contact, non-essential travel and exposure to others who are sick. Wash your hands often, avoid crowds and if there is an outbreak in your community, consider staying home and limiting contact to essential people.


Can my pet get COVID-19?

No. According to the WHO, there is no evidence that companion animals or pets such as cats and dogs have been infected or could spread the virus that causes COVID-19. However, it is good practice to wash your hands after being around animals.


General information


How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.


What should I do if I have recently returned from a country with widespread transmission of the virus?

Self-monitor for any symptom onset such as fever, cough, sore throat or difficulty breathing. If any should arise, seek medical attention. Otherwise practice adequate hygiene and be aware of possible asymptomatic transmission.



What role can I play in the fight against the virus?

Be aware of fake news reporting, ensuring credible resources from the WHO, CDC or NICD are only shared. Speak out against negative behaviours and negative social media statements stereotyping various individuals.

Ensure personal hygiene and good health practices such as cough and sneeze etiquette.

Get the recent flu vaccine to ensure your immune system is at optimal capacity.

Express your appreciation to healthcare workers who are on the frontline taking care of patients and helping make sure this disease does not spread further.


What are the emergency water provisions in response to the COVID-19?

The Department of Water and Sanitation will provide emergency water in rural areas, informal settlements and public areas.

The Department will increase the provision of water and sanitation in high-density public areas, informal settlements and rural areas.

The Department will also ensure that rural areas and informal settlements are provided with water tanks and standpipes, to increase access to water for residents.

Water tanks and sanitizers will also be provided in public spaces including taxi ranks, train and bus stations, and other areas where people congregate.


What are NSFAS preventative measures against the spread of Covid-19 Coronavirus virus?

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will be implementing safety and precautionary measures to combat Covid-19 epidemic as per national government directive by the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Sunday March 15, 2020. A follow-up briefing was held by various Department’s Ministers, including the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Dr Blade Nzimande outlining the impact, holistic measures and approach in support of the national plan. NSFAS has developed preventative measures to lower the risk of spreading the virus.

NSFAS is cognisant of the fact that students may be concerned that the current pandemic will affect the allocation of their funding. We can firmly confirm that NSFAS is implementing measures to ensure that payments and processing of applications is not affected. We will continue to focus on ensuring business continuity and adequate support for our stakeholders who require assistance during this time.

As from Tuesday 17 March 2020 NSFAS staff members will be segmented into priority groups to lower human interaction at the NSFAS Wynberg (Cape Town) Head office, 50% of staff members will be required to report to the office and limit contact amongst each other. Although the NSFAS Contact Centre will be reducing the number of staff members the interaction on alternative platforms will be greatly strengthened.

Clients, students and applicants are encouraged to engage NSFAS on the online platforms prior to attempt to call the Contact Centre. The above strategy enables the organisation to continue the allocation of funding, protect staff members and their families, as well as the students.

The following alternative communication channels will be available from 08h30 to 17h00, Monday to Friday.

  • NSFAS Connect via MyNSFAS account
  • Email: info@nsfas.org.za
  • Facebook: National Student Financial Aid Scheme
  • Twitter: MyNSFAS
  • Instagram: MyNSFAS

For the foreseeable future, NSFAS will also limit local travel for all NSFAS employees. Government and business stakeholders will preferably be contacted using alternative channels of engagement as and when required. We will continue to communicate with the public through our online platforms to provide the latest funding progress updates.


When are schools closing?

In accordance with the pronouncement by the President on 15 March 2020, schools will be closed from 18 March 2020.

Schools should resume on 14 April 2020; unless determined differently. Should this be the case communication will be sent to parents.


How will lost school days be made up?

We are going to lose 10 school days as a result of the school closures.

To compensate for lost days the June holidays will be cut short by a week. Once opened schools will be encouraged to extend tuition hours.


Which schools are affected by the President’s directive?

This directive is binding on all schools; public ordinary schools, independent schools and private.


Catch up plan for Curriculum?

A number of steps are being taken to ensure that education is not compromised.

Each province, district, circuit and school must have a practical and comprehensive catch-up plan to be implemented.

Schools have been urged to give learners work they can do at home with the supervision of parents.

Schools are also encouraged to give learners workbooks and worksheets to be used to keep learners active on curriculum based initiatives.

Parents must play their part in the education of their children.

The school enrichment programmes will also be affected by the arrangements. The Department of Basic Education will this week provide guidelines on how the school enrichment programmes are going to be managed because we want to ensure that those in matric in particular are not disadvantaged.


What measures are in place to protect the most vulnerable groups, including children, youth, women, older persons and persons with disabilities?

All Social Development, NDA offices and SASSA pay points remain operational during this period.

All facilities are adhering to Occupation Health and Safety guidelines and to ensure that basic protective measures against the virus.



Are resources available to assist poor households affected by COVID-19?

In line with President Ramaphosa’s declaration, the Disaster Relief Fund has been activated to provide immediate assistance to affected individuals and families. An amount of R96 million is available from the Fund.


How will this affect the payment of social grants?

The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) is exploring various options to ensure that pay points, including the South African Post Office (SAPO), implement precautionary measures. This will assist in minimizing and mitigating the spread of the virus as these facilities become overcrowded during pay days.

One of the proposals SASSA is currently considering is the staggering of payment dates to avoid gathering of large numbers of people at South African Post Offices. This is in line with the disaster management plan regulations.


What support is in place for affected families and individuals?

All social service professionals will provide psychosocial care and support services to affected individual and their families.

This includes trauma counselling, integration and re-unification of persons who have been isolated/quarantined to mitigate stigmatisation.


How are Early Childhood Development Centres (ECD) affected?

ECD centres will close on 18 March 2020. Parents/caregivers are advised to make alternative care arrangements during this period.


How are other social centres/facilities affected?

There is a suspension, until further notice, of all external visits to Child and Youth Care Centres, drug rehabilitation and treatment centres, shelters and old age centres


What is the role of the non-profit sector in preventing spread of COVID-19?

These are critical stakeholders in the provision of social services. They must continue playing their part by disseminating correct information to members of the public.