Essential services, and those that support them, will continue to provide the necessities of life for everyone during the lockdown period.

This means that food, medicine, healthcare, energy, fuel, essential municipal services, internet and banking services will continue to be available.

During the lockdown, anyone not working in essential services must stay at home and stop all physical interactions with others outside of your household.

If you’re unsure whether your business provides essential services, you should close for the duration of the lockdown. We need as many businesses as possible to close to slow the spread of the virus.

If your business is considered essential, you must operate in a way that minimises the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Businesses should:

  • minimise, or eliminate if possible, physical interactions among staff and with and between customers
  • ensure appropriate health, hygiene and safety measures are in place
  • restrict activity to only what is essential during this period

If you have any queries about what an essential service is and if it applies to your sector, you can get in touch with or call 0861 843 348 or 012 394 9500 for advice regarding your specific business.

What are essential goods and services?

Essential goods and services are those listed in terms of the regulations issued by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs under the Disaster Management Act.

These include the following:


  1. Food
    1. Any food product, including non-alcoholic beverages;
    2. Animal food; and
    3. Chemicals, packaging and ancillary products used in the production of any food product.


  1. Cleaning and Hygiene Products
    1. Toilet Paper, sanitary pads, sanitary tampons, condoms;
    2. Hand sanitiser, disinfectants, soap, alcohol for industrial use, household cleaning products, and personal protective equipment;
    3. Chemicals, packaging and ancillary products used in the production of any of the above;
    4. Products for the care of babies and toddlers; and
    5. Personal toiletries, including haircare, body and face washes, roll-ons, deodorants, toothpaste.
  2. Medical Products
    1. Medical and Hospital Supplies, medicine, equipment and personal protective equipment; and
    2. Chemicals, packaging and ancillary products used in the production of any of the above.
  1. Fuel, including coal, wood and gas
  2. Basic goods, including airtime, electricity and the withdrawal of cash.


  1. Medical, Health (including Mental Health), Laboratory and Medical services and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases;
  2. Disaster Management, Fire Prevention, Fire Fighting and Emergency services;
  3. 3.1 (a) The following services necessary to maintain the functioning of a financial system as defined in section 1(1) of the Financial Sector Regulation Act, only when the operation of a place of business or entity is necessary to continue to perform those services:


  1. the banking environment (including the operations of mutual banks, cooperative banks, co-operative financial institutions and the Postbank);
  2. the payments environment;
  3. the financial markets (including market infrastructures licensed under the Financial Markets Act, 2012 (Act No. 19 of 2012);
  4. the insurance environment;
  5. the savings and investment environment;
  6. pension fund administration;
  7. outsourced administration;
  8. medical schemes administration; and
  9. additional designated services.

(b) The services listed in paragraph (a) may not be construed to include debt collection services.

    1. Services necessary for the provision of social grants.
  1. Production and sale of essential goods;
  2. Grocery stores and wholesale produce markets, including spaza shops and informal food traders, with written permission from a municipal authority to operate being required in respect of informal food traders;
  3. Electricity (including vital demand management services), water, gas and fuel production, supply and maintenance;
  4. Critical jobs for essential government services as determined by Head of National or Provincial Departments in accordance with the guidance of the Department of Public Service and Administration, including Social Grant Payments and pension payments;
  5. Birth and death certificates, and replacement identification documents;
  6. Essential municipal services;
  7. Care services and social relief of distress provided to older persons, mentally ill, persons with disabilities, the sick, and children;
  8. Funeral and cremation services, including mortuaries services and the transportation of mortal remains;
  9. Wildlife Management, Anti-poaching, Animal Care and Veterinary services;
  10. Newspaper, broadcasting and telecommunication infrastructure and services, including call centres critical for the support of such services;
  11. Production and sale of any chemicals, hygiene products, pharmaceuticals for the medical or retail sector;
  12. Cleaning, sanitation, pest control, sewerage, waste and refuse removal services;
  13. Services related to the essential functioning of courts, judicial officers, the Master of the High Court, Sheriffs and legal practitioners required for those services;
  14. Essential SARS services defined by the Commissioner of SARS;
  15. Police, peace officers, traffic officers, military medical personnel and soldiers, correctional services officials and traffic management services;
  16. Postal services and courier services related to transport of medical products;
  17. Private security services;
  18. Air-traffic Navigation, Civil Aviation Authority, air charters, Cargo Shipping and dockyard services;
  19. Gold, gold refinery, coal and essential mining;
  20. Accommodation used for persons rendering essential services, quarantine, isolation and the lockdown;
  21. Production, manufacturing, supply, logistics, transport, delivery, critical maintenance and repair in relation to the rendering of essential services including components and equipment;
  22. Transport services for persons rendering essential services and goods, and transportation of patients;
  23. 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;
  24. 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
  25. Transport and logistics in respect of cargo and goods as set out in Part A to neighbouring countries;
  26. Tow trucks and vehicle recovery services;
  27. Call centres necessary to provide health, safety, social support, government and financial services;
  28. Harvesting and storage activities essential to prevent the wastage of primary agricultural goods;
  29. Implementation of payroll systems to the extent that such arrangement has not been made for the lockdown, to ensure timeous payments to workers; and
  30. Critical maintenance services which cannot be delayed for more than 21 days and are essential to resume operations after the lockdown.

Note: In terms of the definition in 11A, this is in addition to services as defined in –

(a) section 213 of the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (Act No. 66 of 1995); and

(b) designated in terms of section 71(8) of the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (and which designation remains valid as at the date of publication of this regulation).

Permission to operate as an essential service

Only companies permitted in terms of the lockdown regulations will be allowed to continue operating through the period. Companies are encouraged to register as an essential service with the CIPC at, which will generate a certificate confirming their status as essential for the duration of the lockdown. This certificate itself is not sufficient to allow a company to continue operating – all companies must still comply with the regulations, and their certificate will be revoked if they provide false information or are not an essential service. Sole proprietors, healthcare providers registered with the HPCSA and others not governed by the CIPC need not register on the portal.

Essential personnel should be provided with a letter on a company letterhead confirming that they are providing an essential service.

In terms of section 11B of the Regulations:

“(2) The head of an institution must determine essential services to be performed by his or her institution, and must determine the essential staff who will perform those services: Provided that the head of an institution may delegate this function, as may be required in line with the complexity and size of the business operation.


(3) Persons performing essential services as determined in subregulation (2), must be duly designated in writing by the head of an institution.”

Additional decisions, clarifications and exemptions – updated 5pm, 2 April 2020

    • Call centres are permitted to operate if they support essential services, in terms of the amendments to the Regulations published on 26 March 2020.
    • Harvesting and storage of primary agricultural goods is permitted, in terms of the amendments to the Regulations published on 26 March 2020.


  • National Fresh Produce Markets are permitted to remain open, as they are essential to supply retail stores and informal food retailers in urban areas. The transport of fresh produce to formal and informal retailers is an essential service and therefore allowed. Recreational markets must remain closed.
  • There is no restriction on the sale of essential goods by spaza shops, including those operated by foreign nationals.
  • Effective hygiene measures must be followed at all grocery stores and supermarkets, including the provision of hand sanitiser and the maintenance of 1 m2 distance between customers at all times.
  • All South African ports remain open for port operations, and all cargo will be allowed passage at ports of entry to prevent bottlenecks and ensure the continuous supply of essential goods into the country. Non-essential goods will be transported to the nearest storage facility, including empty and full container depots,and dry and liquid bulk storage depots. Distribution of non-essential cargo will be carefully managed so as to limit the need for large numbers of employees to report for duty to transport these goods.
  • From 2 April 2020, informal food traders are permitted to operate on the condition that they have permission from a municipal authority.


Frequently asked questions

Which shops can remain open?

Retail stores, spaza shops and informal traders can remain open only where essential goods (such as food and medicine) are sold and on condition that the person in control of the store must ensure that customers keep a distance of at least 1 m2 from each other, and that all directions in respect of hygienic conditions and the exposure of persons to COVID-19 are adhered to.

Is the sale of liquor allowed?

No, liquor sales are strictly prohibited for the duration of the lockdown. This also applies 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.

Which accommodation facilities may remain open?

During the lockdown period, the following categories of establishments can remain open:

  • Those providing accommodation for international tourists who must remain in their hotels and persons providing essential services to these hotels.
  • Those who have been approved by the Department of Health as appropriate quarantine facilities.

No other accommodation establishments may continue to operate during the lockdown period.

Are car rentals an essential service?

No, car rental companies are not permitted to operate during the lockdown period. However, e-hailing services may be used for permitted activities (such as transporting essential workers or for the purchase of essential goods) on the condition that they carry only 50% of the capacity of the vehicle.

Will public transport remain in operation?

During the lockdown period, minibus taxis and buses may transport essential services workers and passengers who need to travel for groceries, medical treatment, medication or to access banking services. Minibus taxis may carry a maximum of 70% of their capacity. This means that a 15-seater minibus may carry 10 passengers, and a 10-seater minibus may carry 7 passengers. Taxis are required to provide hand sanitisers, and to sanitise their vehicles before picking up any passengers.

Are childcare services and child minders available?

Early Childhood Development centres closed on 18 March 2020, and childcare services are not included in the list of essential services to prevent a large number of people travelling to work. Parents/caregivers are advised to make alternative care arrangements during this period.

Are restaurants and take-away outlets open?

No, restaurants and take-away outlets will remain closed for the duration of the lockdown.

Can I have groceries delivered to my home?

Yes, grocery delivery services are permitted to operate – but they may not deliver prepared food.