What is considered an essential service?



UPDATED 16 April 2020:

As stated in the Disaster Management Act - all essential service providers must, at all times, carry valid photo identification such as an identity document, passport or permit, issued by the Department of Home Affairs. Read more on this.

The following categories of service are considered essential by the South African Government during the 21-day lockdown: 

  1. Production and sale of essential goods;
  2. Grocery stores and wholesale produce markets, including spaza shops and informal food traders, with written permission from a municipal authority to operate is required in respect of informal food traders;
  3. Medical, Health (including Mental Health), Laboratory and Medical services and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases; "Disaster Management, Fire Prevention, Fire Fighting and Emergency services;
  4. Electricity (including vital demand management services), water gas and fuel production, supply and maintenance;
  5. Critical jobs for essential government services as determined by Head of National or Provincial Departments in accordance with the guidance of the Department of Public Service and Administration, including Social Grant Payments and pension payments;
  6. Birth and death certificates, and replacement identification documents;
  7. Essential municipal services;
  8. Care services and social relief of distress provided to older persons, the mentally ill, persons with disabilities, the sick, and children;
  9. Funeral and cremation services, including mortuaries services and the transportation of mortal remains;
  10. Wildlife Management, Anti-poaching, Animal Care and Veterinary services;
  11. Newspaper, broadcasting and telecommunication infrastructure and services, including call centres critical for the support of such services;
  12. Production and sale of any chemicals, hygiene products, pharmaceuticals for the medical or retail sector;
  13. Cleaning, sanitation, pest control, sewerage, waste and refuse removal services;
  14. Services related to the essential functioning of courts, judicial officers, the Master of the High Court, Sheriffs and legal practitioners required for those services;
  15. Essential SARS services defined by the Commissioner of SARS;
  16. Police, peace officers, traffic officers, military medical personnel and soldiers, correctional services officials and traffic management services;
  17. Postal services and courier services related to the transport of medical products;
  18. Private security services;
  19. Air-traffic Navigation, Civil Aviation Authority, air charters, Cargo Shipping and dockyard services;
  20. Gold, gold refinery, coal and essential mining;
  21. Accommodation used for persons rendering essential services, quarantine, isolation and the lockdown;
  22. Production, manufacturing, supply, logistics, transport, delivery, critical maintenance and repair in relation to the rendering of essential services including components and equipment;
  23. Transport services for persons rendering essential services and goods, and transportation of patients;
  24. Services rendered by the Executive, members of Parliament, Members of the Provincial Legislature, Members of Local Councils, the Judiciary, traditional leaders and National Office Bearers. of Political Parties represented in Parliament;
  25. Commissioners of the South African Human Rights Commission, Gender Commission, and the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, and the Public Protector and Deputy Public Protector; and
  26. Transport and logistics in respect of cargo and goods as set out in Part A to neighbouring countries;
  27. Tow trucks and vehicle recovery services;
  28. Call centres necessary to provide health, safety, social support, government and financial services;
  29. Harvesting and storage activities essential to prevent the wastage of primary agricultural goods;
  30. Implementation of payroll systems to the extent that such an arrangement has not been made for the lockdown, to ensure timeous payments to workers; and
  31. Critical maintenance services which cannot be delayed for more than 21 days and are essential to resume operations after the lockdown.

The following services are necessary to maintain the functioning of a financial system and will, therefore, remain operational during the lockdown period.

  • Banking (including the operations of mutual banks, cooperative banks, co-operative financial institutions and the Postbank),
  • Payments
  • Financial markets (including market infrastructures licensed under the Financial Markets Act, 2012,
  • Insurance environment,
  • Savings and investment environment,
  • Pension fund administration,
  • Outsourced administration,
  • Medical schemes administration; and
  • Services necessary for the provision of social grants.

In Short - all shops and businesses will be closed - except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including the JSE, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers.


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