The new Covid rules and restrictions for South Africa – including mask mandates

 ·5 May 2022

Health minister Joe Phaahla has gazetted new regulations under the National Health Act to replace the country’s transitional measures.

The rules cover a number of key issues including the wearing of masks, gatherings, and travel.

As these are not transitional measures, no ‘end date’ has been provided, with the government still considering separate long-term changes under the National Health Act.  However, the regulations do give powers to the health minister to lift certain restrictions if he deems they are no longer necessary.


Some of the key regulations around masks which remain in effect include:

  • The wearing of a face mask is mandatory for every person when in an indoor public place – including public transport.
  • The health minister has the power to lift regulations around masks when he deems they are no longer necessary.


All gatherings are permitted at 50% of the venue capacity:

  • Provided persons are fully vaccinated and in possession of a valid vaccination certificate; or
  • Unvaccinated but in possession of a valid certificate of a negative Covid-19 which was obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of the gathering,.

Alternatively, gatherings are permitted for the unvaccinated and those without tests, but are limited to 1,000 persons or fewer for indoor venues and 2,000 persons or fewer for outdoor venues.

If the venue is too small to hold the prescribed number of persons observing a distance of at least one metre from each other, then not more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used, subject to strict adherence to all health protocols and social distancing measures.


Travel into South Africa is permitted provided:

  • Fully vaccinated people must, upon arrival at the land border, produce a valid vaccination certificate; and
  • Unvaccinated people must, upon arrival, provide a valid certificate of a negative Covid-19 test, recognised by the World Health Organisation, which was obtained not more than 72 hours before the date of travel. They may also produce a negative antigen test provided it was not taken 48 hours before travel, or a certificate showing they have tested positive for Covid within the last 90 days.

Outbound travellers from South Africa must continue to comply with the requirements of the country of destination.

Read: Vaccines effective against new Omicron subvariants, WHO chief says

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