Freedom? How our ‘curfew and travel laws’ change at each lockdown level

Publication source:  The South African

If you’re yearning to loosen the shackles of lockdown, it’s worth noting how our travel and curfew laws change at each level of our restrictions.

We are on day 52 of lockdown in South Africa – at least that’s what the carvings on our wall tell us. It’s been a long, arduous march and there is much more ground to cover. It could be months before we gain any semblance of true ‘freedom’, but the further through the stages we get, the more relaxed our travel and curfew laws become.

Here’s what we can look forward to:


  • Extremely strict regulations. You cannot travel outside of your province unless permitted to do so.
  • You can only leave your homes for a medical emergency, to buy groceries, briefly exercise, or attend a job as a key worker.
  • You cannot travel more than 5km away from your home to exercise during Level 4.
  • Curfew remains in place from 20:00 – 5:00.


  • Provincial travel (crossing from one province to another) is only allowed for workers and funeral guests.
  • Recreational visits to friends and family are still banned.
  • South Africans returning home and foreign nationals leaving South Africa will be allowed to fly.
  • People may travel to perform services only where such services can’t be provided from the safety of one’s home.
  • Exercise laws will be eased. People can stay out longer / go further afield. We’re still awaiting confirmed details.
  • Curfew remains in place from 20:00 – 5:00.


  • Inter-provincial travel will be allowed, according to the government’s information portal.
  • However, with South Africa ready to set its lockdown by the performance of each district, limits may be enforced.
  • Recreational visits to friends and family are still banned.
  • Accommodation services – barring conferences – can welcome people who are travelling for work.
  • Side note: It’s estimated that 97% of workers will be back at work in Level 2, almost guaranteeing that the rush hour commutes will resemble something like what we saw before coronavirus hit our shores.
  • The country may open up significantly at this point, but the curfew? That stays in place from 20:00 – 5:00.


  • People will be allowed to stay in pre-booked accommodation as guests.
  • Citizens can travel to restaurants for sit-in meals.
  • All ocean transport and public transport will resume normal service – with strict social distancing guidelines in place.
  • More reasons to leave the house: You can go to hair salons, spas and beauticians at Level 1.
  • Recreational, cultural and sporting activities and facilities will get the green light – but it is way too early to consider the specifics yet.
  • At Level 1, you can *technically* travel anywhere you want in the country. But you’re advised not to, and all journeys should still be for essential purposes only.
  • You can meet family and friends but keep it super low-key and socially distanced. Public gatherings are still banned.
  • And as for that curfew? It gets binned at Level 1 – but this may be subject to change.


The government’s advice does come with a disclaimer. Not only can both the president and the National Command Council change their own forecast guidelines as they see fit, but any progress towards the easier stages of lockdown will be done with masks over mouths, sanitised hands, and two metres between us all:

“All COVID-19 health and safety protocols must be followed at all times, including observance of guidelines for social distancing, sanitation and hygiene, and use of appropriate personal protective equipment, like cloth face masks, as determined by the National Department of Health.”

“A reference to a permitted level of employment must take into account the necessary social distancing guidelines as per the National Department of Health.”