The City Lockdown Diaries is a 3-part series of publications that share the findings from the City Lockdown Diaries project, a research project formulated by researchers at the South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning (SA&CP) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold globally, lockdowns were a tool used by many governments to curb the spread of the disease. In South Africa, a national lockdown was announced as a tool to enforce social distancing and therefore stop the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) by disrupting the chain of transmission, while also easing the burden on public healthcare systems. The “hard lockdown” – which was categorised as Level 5 – was initially intended to last 21 days, from midnight of the 26th of March to 17 April 2020. The Level-5 lockdown was later extended to 35 days, from 27 March to 30 April 2020. The City Lockdown Diaries project focused on this 35-day period.

This work is a small contribution to growing scholarship on the impact of COVID-19 and associated responses to the pandemic. It was only made possible by the dedicated diary entries of participants which allowed us into their homes and minds, even when it was not easy. To all of them, many of whom chose to be anonymous, we say thank you. As urban planning scholars, and as people who ourselves were locked down, we hope this series contributes to a moment where we are rethinking and reshaping our homes, neighbourhoods and world beyond this pandemic and the structural inequities it illustrated.

Issue 1: Spaces and Places

Issue 2: The Street Shops and Social Distancing

Journal Article: The Emotional Toll of the ‘Hard Lockdown’: An analysis of diary entries from Gauteng, South Africa.