COVID ‘clubs’: Sandton patrons

It’s party time at Saint in Sandton on a Sunday night. Image: Supplied

COVID ‘clubs’: Sandton patrons party like there’s no pandemic

Music, lights, fancy cars and themed events. Sandton restaurants and bars are flouting COVID-19 regulations and looking more like nightclubs.

COVID ‘clubs’: Sandton patrons

It’s party time at Saint in Sandton on a Sunday night. Image: Supplied

The South African conducted an inspection of some bars and restaurants in Sandton’s trendy nightspots to establish compliance with COVID-19 regulations, albeit under lockdown Level 1.

Level 1 still prohibits the operation of nightclubs while social distancing measures also still apply.

Sunday nights in Sandton

Sunday nights in Sandton are not as dull and gloomy as they have been in recent months, with several well-known bars and restaurants hosting themed nights.

Loud music tears through the cool night air, while neon lazers flood the sky above Sandton, enticing revellers to join the festivities.  

Sandton patrons pile in at Room 130

Room 130 has become a bustling weekend hangout. Image: Supplied

At Room 130, on the edge of the Sandton precinct, an unmasked car guard approaches vehicles, attempting to direct drivers to park as efficiently as possible outside the bustling venue.

The majority of revellers arrive in luxury vehicles or uber taxis. Most do not appear to be wearing face masks when stepping out of vehicles or making their way into the club, where masks and social distancing are quickly dispensed with.

Less than saintly behaviour at Saint?

At Saint in Sandton, near the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, loud music and the joyful sounds of social gathering can be heard from 2km away.  Masked patrons wait in lines outside this restaurant and bar, where hundreds of people pack the indoor and outdoor areas of this upmarket venue.

The establishment hosts popular themed events on Sundays with music provided by in-house DJs. Again, many seated and standing patrons are tightly packed into the venue, exceeding regulations governing the number of people permitted in both indoor and outdoor spaces.


Most patrons at the establishments visited in Sandton were seen without face masks and not adhering to social distancing regulations. Many were seated on loungers, passing hubbly-bubblies between them and all inhaling from the same pipe.

This kind of behaviour is alarming in the light of a global pandemic and in a country where new the COVID-19 variant is prevalent.  South Africans may be starting to feel more relaxed now that the second wave of infections has passed. This is resulting in complacency around preventative measures and COVID-19 protocols.  


Many establishments are flouting national COVID-19 restrictions with little regard for their legal obligation to enforce the measures to mitigate the spread of the virus.  Even more concerning is that police patrolling the Sandton area are apparently turning a blind eye to what is happening.

Even with the shift to Level 1 on Sunday at midnight, nightclubs are still banned from opening.  At the time of reporting on Sunday, Level 3 restrictions were still in place, allowing gatherings of only up to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.  


Restaurants and bars are now able to trade with relatively few restrictions. However, the risk of COVID-19 infections will rise if they host packed events where health and safety regulations are violated.  

The rationale behind the government’s COVID-19 regulations must be considered. Take a business like Exclusive Books, which is only allowed to have a handful of customers at a time, with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols.

But then, bars and restaurants effectively operating as nightclubs are packing in the patrons. These patrons, like the ones in Sandton, are able to remove their masks and abandon social distancing under the guise of consuming food and alcohol.


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