South Africa Lifts the State of Disaster After Two Years: Now What?


We’ve been dealing with pandemic restrictions for two years at this point. And for many of us, the pandemic fatigue is real. But for South Africans, there could be an end in sight as the country announced that it’s lifting its “state of disaster” that’s been in place for two years and moving to a transitional phase.

But what does this exactly mean? Is the pandemic finally over?

Well, no. The pandemic is still happening and there are still many people at risk. However, at this point, we’ve started to understand COVID-19 a bit better, including which restrictions and preventive measures actually work.

So, instead of seeing this as the signs of the pandemic ending, you can see it as people learning to live with the disease and working around it.

With that said, many of us are still confused about what the lifting of the state of disaster actually means, what restrictions are still in place, and what activities you can now do as South Africa is transitioning to a new phase of pandemic management.

Today, we’re getting into the details. So, keep reading if you’d like to learn the details of South Africa’s state of disaster lifting and what activities you can now do.

What Was South Africa’s State of Disaster?

On March 20, 2020, South Africa declared a state of disaster. This was a new occurrence for many South Africans, and since most of us have never dealt with a pandemic before, it was scary.

This was a clear sign to citizens that the pandemic was serious and something to be concerned about. With this state of disaster came a range of restrictions. All of these restrictions were put in place to curb the spread of the pandemic and “flatten the curve”.

At the time, we didn’t know a lot about COVID-19 and its dangers. That’s why a lot of the early restrictions seem to make no sense now that we’ve learned more about the nature of this virus.

For example, some of the first restrictions imposed on South Africans were barring them from buying certain clothing and items. During the beginning of the state of disaster, South Africans couldn’t buy sandals and other items to discourage them from leaving the house.

Additionally, alcohol and cigarette purchases were also banned, which left a lot of people confused.

Of course, there were also more well-thought out restrictions that came with the state of disaster. When the government announced the state of disaster, there was a country-wide ban on large gatherings, and face mask mandates were imposed.

Since then, South Africa has dealt with over 4 different COVID waves coming from different variants. And while dealing with these waves was tough and took a large toll on the populace, we have since learned how to deal with the virus more effectively.

So, as time passed and we learned more, some of these “weird” restrictions were eased. But since the state of disaster was still in place, many restrictions remained in place for a much longer time. In fact, even with the state of disaster lifted, you may still have to deal with some of these restrictions.

What Can I Do Now That There’s No More State of Disaster?

Early in April, the government announced that they would lift the state of disaster on April 16, 2022, after the public window to comment on the health regulations closes. Now, that doesn’t mean that concerts, festivals, and other events will be coming back right away. However, it does mean that restrictions will get looser, and you will be able to do more activities.

For example, restaurants will now be allowed to fill up their establishments to 50% capacity. However, keep in mind that this only applies to restaurants that require proof of vaccination or negative COVID tests.

So, if you’ve been itching to go out and have lunch or dinner with friends, you can now do it with the state of disaster lifted.

There are indications that South African citizens will soon be able to return the “normal” lives that they lived before the pandemic. So, there is a chance that festivals, stadium events, and large gatherings will be returning. However, keep in mind that this won’t happen right away.

What Restrictions Are Still in Place?

Even if South Africa has lifted its state of disaster, you won’t be able to go to a concert or festival just yet. In fact, many of the current restrictions that citizens have to follow will still be in place for at least 30 days.

So, mask mandates for indoor and outdoor events are still a thing, and there are still recommended restrictions for gatherings.

However, the most widely-felt restrictions that are still in place apply to travellers entering the country. If you enter South Africa, you still need to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test if they don’t have vaccination documents.

On top of that, the number of flights allowed into the country will still be limited for the time being. This is because even if things are starting to loosen up, there’s still a risk of COVID-19, so people have to stay vigilant.

With that said, it looks like these restrictions won’t be around for that much longer. As South Africa moves to a new phase in the pandemic management process, the government will slowly remove the current restrictions that have a major effect on our lives.

So, stay updated during the next 30 days. Over the next month, the government will start removing certain restrictions with the goal of opening up in May.

While you might not be able to return to your pre-pandemic life just yet, some signs show restrictions won’t be around for that much longer.

Conclusion – Does This Mean the Pandemic Is Over?

The pandemic is still here. Cases are rising in many areas worldwide. However, as more people get vaccinated, we are closer to developing immunity. So, even with rising cases, the data shows that fewer people are getting severely sick from the disease.

If you’re itching for the day this pandemic ends, you aren’t alone. Most of the world is wishing for the end of this pandemic. While we aren’t there yet, we could be close to our goal. And South Africa lifting their state of disaster is a great indicator of that.