South Africa National Lockdown FAQ

A lockdown is an emergency protocol that requires all South Africans to stay at home except for essential purposes. Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and other essential industries will remain open. All non-essential activities are suspended.
The full national lockdown began at midnight on Thursday 26 March, and will continue until midnight on Thursday, 30 April 2020.
The nationwide lockdown is necessary to fundamentally stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in South Africa by disrupting the chain of transmission. It will prevent the spread of the virus and save the lives of South Africans.
You will be able to:
  • Seek medical care
  • Buy groceries
  • Visit the pharmacy
  • Access banking services
  • Get petrol
  • Collect a social grant
Emergency services including doctors, clinics, hospitals and pharmacies will continue to operate as usual.
Grocery stores and banking services will remain open throughout the lockdown period.


Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV). Novel coronavirus 2019 is a new strain of coronavirus that had not previously been identified in humans. The COVID-19 virus is highly contagious and infectious. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they can spread from animals (such as bats), and people.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, includes:
  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • stay home when you are sick
  • cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
If you have had close contact with someone who is confirmed to have, or being evaluated for COVID-19 infection, you should monitor your health starting from the day you first had close contact with the person and continue for 14 days after you last had close contact with the person. Watch for these signs and symptoms:
  • fever (take your temperature twice a day)
  • coughing
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • other early symptoms to watch for are chills, body aches, sore throat, headache, diarrhoea, nausea/vomiting, and runny nose
The influenza virus has existed for a long time, which means there has been enough research to understand how it spreads, who is at risk of severe disease, how infection can be prevented, and how it can be treated. Little information is currently available on the COVID-19 virus and the disease it causes. Clinical experts are doing research to find out more. A vaccine currently exists for the seasonal flu virus, while research is still underway to possibly develop a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. The same precautionary measures for preventing the spread of seasonal flu apply to the COVID-19 virus.
Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Should you develop flu-like symptoms after visiting a country or area where Covid-19 is spreading from person-to-person in the community OR had close contact with a confirmed or suspected case of Covid-19 stay calm. Remember even if you do have Covid-19 most people have a mild illness. It’s important to seek care in a way that prevents you from spreading it to others:
  • If you have access to private healthcare call your general doctor/ local health facility or NICD Hotline on 0800 029 999. Explain your symptoms and where you have travelled or with whom you have had contact.
  • If you use public healthcare call your local health facility or NICD Hotline on 0800 029 999. You will receive advice on what to do. If you are unable to make a call, go to your local facility. Before you enter the facility alert staff that you are concerned you have Covid-19. Expect to be asked to put on a face mask. You will be asked to wait separately from other patients until a health worker can help you. Should you develop difficulty breathing seek care urgently. If possible, call ahead to your local health facility to inform them you are en route.