South Africa is now in its fourth week of lockdown and many people are starting to question the strict rules which remain in place.

Economist Mike Schussler said South Africa cannot afford to close the economy in the draconian way the government has done so.

He said South Africa’s lockdown is far stricter than most other countries, with some of the current rules being downright petty.

He added that very few countries closed all non-essential production during lockdown, which raises questions about the government’s decision to do it here.

“Most countries have allowed outside walks, jogging, or walking the dog close to home,” he added.

Many South Africans have also voiced their unhappiness with recent regulations which were passed to ban the sale of cooked, hot food at supermarkets.

They said it shows the government is out of touch with the economic disaster which is currently unfolding.

Calls for relaxing the regulations

It has been highlighted that South Africa’s lockdown regulations are out of touch with international standards.

One such group to state this is local ecommerce players. Takealot CEO Kim Reid said ecommerce companies are an asset in the fight against the coronavirus, which the government should consider using.

He said ecommerce allows people to buy goods in an almost contactless way, and this is exactly what a lockdown should encourage.

His view is shared by many logistics businesses, which asked Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel to allow online shopping and delivery to continue.

These businesses argue that allowing all goods to be transported domestically by professional courier companies will allow many businesses to continue operating.

The DA has also called for an end to arbitrary limitations on what can be sold in stores that are open during the lockdown.

It said the confusion around what are considered “essential items” in stores which are open is unhelpful and should be ended.

Ban on alcohol and cigarettes

One particularly controversial decision by the government is the ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes.

Lobby groups threatened legal action to allow the sale of alcohol and cigarettes, but to no avail.

Government officials confirmed on 16 April that the ban on the sale of these products will remain in force until the lockdown ends.

President Cyril Ramaphosa added that alcohol is a hindrance to the fight against the coronavirus.

He said stakeholders have pointed to the causal relationship between alcohol intoxication and abuse, and risky behaviour.

“There are proven links between the sale and consumption of alcohol and violent crime, motor vehicle accidents, and other medical emergencies,” he said.

Lockdown Comparison – South Africa, UK, and Australia

To assess whether South Africa’s lockdown regulations are indeed much stricter than in other countries, MyBroadband conducted a basic comparison.

We compared restrictions on various industries and business activities during lockdown in South Africa against those in the UK and Australia.

The table below provides an overview of the lockdown restrictions. It should be noted that lockdown restrictions can differ in different states and territories.

Lockdown rules summary: Australia – UK – South Africa

Lockdown Rules
ActivitySouth AfricaUKAustralia
Walk your dogNoYesYes
Jog outsideNoYesYes
Sports eventsNoNoNo
Essential Goods ShopsOpenOpenOpen
Non-Essential Goods ShopsClosedClosedClosed
Entertainment, like CinemasClosedClosedClosed
Bottle StoresClosedOpenOpen
Cigarette SalesClosedOpenOpen
Ecommerce ShopsClosedOpenOpen
Ecommerce DeliveriesClosedOpenOpen
Items sold in open shopsRestrictedUnrestrictedUnrestricted
MinesPartially OpenOpenOpen