WATCH | SA announces 21-day lockdown over Covid-19
South Africa will go into lockdown for three weeks from midnight on Thursday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday that the National Command Council on the coronavirus said this is a necessary step to contain the spread of the global pandemic.
South Africans would have to "stay at home" until April 16.
"This is a decisive measure to save lives of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of our people," said the president.
"While these measures will have a considerable impact on people's livelihoods, on the life of our society and on our economy, the human cost of delaying this action would be far, far greater."
Ramaphosa said essential services personnel would be the only ones exempted, including police, healthcare workers and those involved in the supply of goods, including food.