Compliance with Lockdown Regulations During the COVID-19 Pandemic in South Africa: Findings from an Online Survey

Natisha Dukhi1, *, Tholang Mokhele2, Whadi-Ah Parker1, Shandir Ramlagan3, Razia Gaida4, Musawenkosi Mabaso5, Ronel Sewpaul1, Sean Jooste1, Inbarani Naidoo5, Saahier Parker1, Mosa Moshabela6, Khangelani Zuma3, 4, Priscilla Reddy1
1 Human and Social Capabilities, Human Sciences Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa
2 eResearch Knowledge Centre, Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa
3 Human and Social Capabilities Division, Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa
4 Human and Social Capabilities Division, Human Sciences Research Council, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
5 Human and Social Capabilities Division, Human Sciences Research Council, Durban, South Africa
6 School of Nursing and Public Health Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
7 School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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© 2021 Dukhi et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at Human and Social Capabilities, Human Sciences Research Council, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa; Tel: +27 21 466 7824; E-mail:



Background: SARS-CoV-2 has resulted in the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on a nationally representative online survey conducted several weeks on the pandemic, this paper explores how South Africans responded to the compliance regulations laid down by the national government and factors associated with individuals’ confidence in their community adhering to lockdown regulations.


The study was conducted using a closed-ended questionnaire on a data-free online platform. Additionally, a telephonic survey was included to accommodate individuals who do not have access to smart-phones. The study population consisted of respondents who were 18 years and older and living in South Africa (n=19 933). Data were benchmarked to the 2019 midyear population estimates. Descriptive statistics and bivariate logistic regression are presented.


Over a quarter (26.1%) of respondents reported that they had not left home, indicating compliance with the COVID-19 control regulations, and 55.3% who did leave their homes did so to purchase essential items. A small proportion (1.2%) reported that they had visited friends. People, classified as coloured, those who were more literate (those with secondary, matric and tertiary education status), those residing in disadvantaged areas (informal settlements, townships, rural areas and farms), and those who perceived their risk of contracting COVID-19 as moderate and high, reported not being confident of their community adhering to lockdown.


Communication strategies must be employed to ensure that important information regarding the pandemic be conveyed in the most important languages and be dispatched via various communication channels to reach as many people as possible.

Keywords: Lockdown, Compliance, South Africa, Community, COVID-19, Adherence.