Lockdown rules – South Africa vs UK vs Australia vs New Zealand

South Africa now has the fifth-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, but the country’s COVID-19 cases and response remain unique in many respects.

Unlike many other countries, South Africa began relaxing lockdown regulations ahead of its peak in confirmed cases, resulting in the virus continuing to spread across the country.

As the infection rate increased, the South African government allowed minibus taxis to operate at 100% capacity, reopened cinemas, and allowed church services to resume.

All of these activities are categorised as “high risk” by various risk indices which measure the potential to contract COVID-19 across various activities.

Despite this reopening of certain high-risk activities, South Africa has maintained and even strengthened some restrictions.

These include the reimposition of a nationwide curfew between 21:00 to 04:00 and a ban on the local sale and distribution of alcohol.

Cigarettes and all other tobacco products have also been banned since the lockdown was first effected on 27 March.

Lockdown rules comparison

Many countries have created COVID-19 alert level systems and staged lockdown restrictions which are imposed depending on the spread of the virus in the country.

South Africa is currently on COVID-19 alert level 3, although a series of “advanced level 3” regulations have relaxed this lockdown stage extensively, with the exception of the alcohol ban and curfew.

Many South Africans have criticised South Africa’s lockdown rules, while others have supported unique actions such as the extended ban on alcohol and cigarettes.

When comparing local lockdown rules with other countries, however, it is clear that South Africa has a unique approach to combatting the spread of COVID-19.

We looked at how the basic lockdown rules currently in force in South Africa compare with the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

It should be noted that New Zealand is the only country in this comparison which has effectively eliminated the virus, recording no new cases for an extended period.

The lockdown rules comparison is shown below.

Lockdown Rules
Activity South Africa UK Australia New Zealand
Curfew Yes No No No
Outdoor exercise Allowed Allowed Allowed Allowed
Mandatory face masks Yes Indoors Certain areas No
Local travel (Leisure) Prohibited Allowed Prohibited Allowed
Local travel (Business) Allowed Allowed Allowed Allowed
Public transport Open Open Open Open
Religious gatherings
Weddings Prohibited Allowed Allowed Allowed
Funerals Allowed Allowed Allowed Allowed
Church services Allowed Allowed Allowed Allowed
Entertainment and exercise
Cinemas and theatres Open Open Open Open
Gyms Closed Open Open Open
Restaurants Open Open Open Open
Casinos Open Open Open Open
Beaches Closed Open Open Open
Banned goods
Alcohol sales Prohibited Allowed Allowed Allowed
Cigarette sales Prohibited Allowed Allowed Allowed
Schools Closed Closed Open Open
Universities Open Closed Open Open

Now read: COVIDConnect in South Africa – What it is, and what it isn’t

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