A different kind of New Year’s Eve in SA amid COVID-19 pandemic

SABC News fireworks 1 1 - A different kind of New Year’s Eve in SA amid COVID-19 pandemic

Loss of life, job losses, loss of income, and all sort of losses and tragedies have undoubtedly reigned supreme and loss will go down as the main character of the year 2020.

At the very least, many had hoped to end the year with a bang, for a moment forgetting about the hardships of the year that has been. This as the COVID-19 pandemic has left a trail of destruction worldwide, and with more than 28 000 people having succumbed to the virus right here at home.

However, ending the year with a bang is no longer an option following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement to move the country from Level 1 of the lockdown to an Adjusted Level 3 in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announces Level 3 lockdown regulations: 

The speech, while necessary, has to a great extent been a buzz killer to New Year’s Eve festivities. Gatherings, alcohol sales, beach-going, etc. were all banned, forcing South Africa to consider new ways to usher in the New Year.

Large gatherings

Under the new adjusted Level 3 lockdown regulations, South Africans will have to usher in the New Year differently. In Gauteng,  the City of Johannesburg normally hosts an event at the Mary Fitzgerald Square. The event usually draws thousands of people who enjoy entertainment from various artists.

However, this year the event will not be hosted. This kind of event is what would now be identified as a super spreader event where many would risk contracting the virus.

Experts have already warned of a significant increase in the number of cases in the province at the end of the festive season as travellers will be coming back into the province.

Hotspots in the province include West Rand District, the City of Johannesburg, the City of Tshwane, and Ekurhuleni.

Many South Africans often also spend their New Year’s eve at church events praying for the year ahead. This year places of worship will be closed.


Others often prefer to make the count down to the New Year at restaurants across the country.  They will have to leave the restaurants earlier. According to the adjusted Level 3 regulations, establishments including restaurants, cinemas, theatres, casinos, and museums, galleries have to be closed by 20h00.

People have to be confined to their place of residence from 21H00 until 06H00 daily in respect of the curfew set out by the government.

In Cape Town, V&A Waterfront will replace the fireworks with a giant light beam. The light represents the lives lost. The Western Cape is one of the provinces leading the second wave of the virus.

Premier Alan Winde outlines the province’s strategy to deal with the virus: 


Beaches are also where people spent the last day of the year. With the restrictions, all beaches, dams, lakes in hotspot areas will be closed.

In the Western Cape, the Garden Route District was the first to be declared a hotspot: 

The beaches around the district were closed on public holidays including the Day of Reconciliation and Christmas Day. The West Coast District, Overberg District, Winelands District, Cape Town, Central Karoo District have also been declared hotspots.

In the Eastern Cape, the beach parties that are synonymous with the day have been cancelled. Some residents have expressed frustration.

“I am not happy. This is not good. I planned to come to the beach but now I must stay at home and do absolutely nothing. I hate it.”

But others understand that this is necessary. “Well, I normally light candles anyway on New Year’s eve, praying for a better year. It has been a tradition for my family and so, that is exactly what I will do. I will be indoors with my family praying and hoping for a better 2021.”

The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro’s Head of Communications, Princess Tobin-Diouf, says this year is most definitely different, but it is not all doom and gloom. 

“We have a festival lineup and shows like eBubeleni which are our annual shows. You can catch those on TV. They will be taking you through to 2021. This is forcing us to change our behaviour. People need to be vigilant and take care of their health. We also have an app that you can visit where you will get alternative activities to do.”

In KwaZulu-Natal, eThekwini, Umgungundlovu District, Ugu District, Harry Gwala District, King Cetshwayo District, and Ilembe District have been declared hotspots.

Candles for the deceased 

President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged South Africans to join him in welcoming the New Year differently by lighting a candle to honour the dead.

“I will light a candle in Cape Town at exactly midnight on New Year’s Eve in memory of those who have lost their lives and in tribute to those who are on the frontline working to save our lives and protect us from harm.”






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