Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: South Africa extends state of disaster through Oct. 15. Borders remain closed. Level 2 COVID-19 restrictive measures remain active.

Alert Begins 14 Sep 2020 12:20 PM UTC
Alert Expires 15 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Affected Area(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business and travel disruptions, entry restrictions; possible increased security, crime

Authorities in South Africa have extended the national state of disaster through Oct. 15. Nationwide Level 2 restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) remain in place.

Under Level 2, the following measures are in place:


  • Borders remain closed to international commercial passenger travel. Travel is permitted for freight shipments, humanitarian operations, medical reasons, and the repatriation of South African nationals and foreign citizens. South African national and permanent residents may also travel out of the country for work and study purposes.


  • A nationwide 2200-0400 nightly curfew remains in place. Medical personnel and other essential workers are exempt from the measure but require a travel permit.


  • Interprovincial travel for recreation and leisure is permitted.


  • All accommodation facilities may reopen. No more than two people may share a room in accommodation facilities; however, parents may share a room with a maximum of two children.


  • Authorities encourage workers to work from home.


  • Most businesses can resume operations under specific conditions. Gyms and fitness centers may reopen, with restrictions.


  • Restaurants, bars, and taverns may reopen, with restrictions.


  • Offsite alcohol sales are permitted Mondays-Thursdays 0900-1700. Onsite consumption is permitted until 2200.


  • Tobacco sales are allowed.


  • Public gatherings, including conferences, convention centers, and cultural and social gatherings, are limited to no more than 50 people.


  • Public transportation will be restricted, including limitations on the number of passengers on long-distance travel and stringent hygiene requirements.


  • Parks, beaches, and nature reserves may reopen.


  • Protective facemasks and social distancing of at least 2 meters (6.5 feet) are mandatory in public spaces.


  • Individuals and businesses that violate the country's social distancing and safety guidelines will face a fine.


  • Sporting events may continue without spectators.


Authorities have reiterated that the disease activity will determine the increase or decrease of restrictive measures in individual districts, metros, and provinces. The country moved from Level 4 to Level 3 of its five-level risk scale June 1. The resumption of economic activities in additional sectors is subject to stringent health and safety measures. South African authorities declared a national state of disaster March 15.

South Africa may see an increase in levels of petty and violent criminal activity during Level 2 restrictions due to relaxed movement restrictions.

Background and Analysis
South Africa's travel restrictions and preventive measures correspond with similar actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19.

Stages of the phasing of restrictive measures are as follows:


  • Level 5 – Drastic measures are required.


  • Level 4 – Some activity can be allowed, subject to extreme requirements.


  • Level 3 – The easing of some restrictions on work and social activities.


  • Level 2 – Further easing of restrictions, but the maintenance of social distancing.


  • Level 1 – Most normal activity can resume, with caution and health guidelines followed at all times.


COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. South Africa declared a National State of Disaster March 15 and implemented nationwide movement restrictions March 26.

Heed all official advisories and remain nonconfrontational if stopped by authorities. Reconfirm all travel arrangements if traveling to, from, or via South Africa. Shipping disruptions may occur; consider delaying or rerouting shipments. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Back to the COVID-19 Risk Intelligence & Resource Center