Physical distancing and other transmission reduction measures - Coronavirus (COVID-19)


Slowing the spread of coronavirus in our community


Australians need to act now to reduce the risk of infection from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and limit their day-to-day activities outside the home. We all need to change our behaviour to help change the course of this epidemic.

Physical distancing’ measures are particularly important in reducing the spike of infections and protecting our elderly and those with chronic diseases.

The situation is rapidly changing, and this advice will be updated as required. Please check your local Department of Health coronavirus section for updates.


Staying connected as a community


It is important to keep connected as a community, even while physically distancing. You can do this by taking some simple steps.

  • Stay informed. Use information from reputable sources

  • Support others in your community. Look out for your neighbours and family members.

  • Where possible, keep connected to your family, friends and work colleagues through phone, email and social media. 

  • Do not panic buy foods, medicines or other goods. Hoarding can harm vulnerable people and communities.



Personal actions to reduce your exposure


  • Stay at home. Don’t visit friends, and don’t visit family at this time.

  • You should only be outside for one of the following four reasons:

    • shopping for what you need - food and essential supplies

    • medical, care or compassionate needs

    • exercise in compliance with the public gathering requirements

    • work and study if you can’t work or learn remotely

  • Do not travel overseas, interstate, take a cruise or travel domestically unless absolutely necessary.

  • Stay healthy with good nutrition, regular exercise, sensible drinking, sleeping well, and for smokers, quitting.

  • Do not participate in community gatherings including community sport. Gatherings of more than two people are not allowed except for members of your immediate household and for work or education purposes.

  • Take the following hygiene actions:

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or using the toilet. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.

    • Do not share drink bottles, crockery or cutlery.

  • Stop shaking hands, hugging or kissing as a greeting.

  • Ensure a distance of at least 1.5 metres is kept between yourself and others.

  • Get vaccinated for flu (influenza). This will help reduce the strain on the healthcare system as it deals with coronavirus. Vaccines are now available from your GP and pharmacy.

  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly e.g. phones, keyboards, door handles, light switches, bench tops.



Prepare for quarantine or self-isolation

  • Shop for what you need, and only what you need.

  • Ensure you have enough non-perishable food for you and your family for 14 days.

  • Ensure you have enough medication for you and your family for 14 days.

  • Plan with friends and family how you would manage if you need to self- isolate for 14 days.



Take personal action to protect your community

  • If you have had close contact with a person with COVID-19, you must quarantine for 14 days. You will be notified by your local Department of Health and advised of what you must do.

  • If you’re in quarantine or isolation, you can’t:

    • leave that place except in an emergency.

    • allow other people into the home if they don’t live there.

    • be closer than 1.5 metres to others in the home.

  • Stay at home and avoid all gatherings of more than two people including yourself. This minimises the chances of transmission, protects the health system and saves lives.

  • You should only be outside for one of the following four reasons:

    • shopping for what you need - food and essential supplies

    • medical, care or compassionate needs

    • exercise in compliance with the public gathering requirements

    • work and study if you can’t work or learn remotely

  • If you are with other people e.g. in supermarket, you must observe the rule of 1 person for every 4 square metres to ensure a safe physical distance. Keep 1.5 metres away from others.

  • State Governments have already ordered the closure of a range of facilities including hotels, pubs and clubs (excluding bottle shops within those venues), casinos, cinemas, nightclubs, entertainment venues, gyms and indoor sporting centres. Please check your local Department of Health coronavirus section for updates. 

  • There are now further closures of non-essential businesses, limitations on certain activities, and closure of a range of venues, attractions and facilities where large numbers of people would otherwise be in close proximity.

  • If you need to leave your home, keep the time short.

  • Do not attend places of worship unless you are attending a funeral or wedding

  • Do not take part in community sports, including golf.

  • Do not go camping or hiking. Many sites have been closed including high visitation sites, historic sites and camp sites. For more information check your local Parks website.

  • Where possible, use debit and credit cards instead of cash and make use of online and self-serve transactions (for example, Myki top ups).

  • If using a change room do not share items like towels and soap bars, and wash your hands after changing.

  • Only travel when necessary and use public transport in less busy periods if you can. Walk or cycle if possible.

  • If you are elderly or vulnerable avoid public transport.

  • Ride in the back of taxis, uber and ride shares.

  • Any gathering of more than 2 people except for members of your immediate household and for work or education purposes, is a risk for transmitting coronavirus and is not allowed. Please check your local Department of Health coronavirus section for updates.



Ban on community and mass gatherings: Government Direction


Community and mass gatherings have the potential for serious public health consequences if they are not planned and managed carefully.


The following directions have already come into effect across the country, that focus on organised gatherings of people:

  • Gatherings of more than two people except for members of your immediate household and for work or education purposes are not allowed

  • Specified organisations and facilities where people congregate for non-essential activities are prohibited from operating (e.g. restaurants, bars).  See New restrictions and closures. 

  • The directions do not apply to essential activities such as public transport facilities, medical and health care facilities, pharmacies, emergency service facilities, food markets, supermarkets and grocery stores, shopping centres, office buildings, factories, construction sites, and mining sites, where it is necessary for their normal operation. Other social distancing and hygiene practices are required in these settings.  

  • Food markets should control the level of patronage numbers and reduce stall density to decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission.


ANZAC Day ceremonies and events will be cancelled due to the high proportion of older Australians who attend such events and the increased risk posed to such individuals. There should be no marches.  A small streamed/filmed ceremony involving officials at a state level may occur.



Actions for community and recreation centres and outdoor recreation


Community sport and recreation facilities pose risks for transmission among communities. As such, the following venues must now close:

  • Health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre and spin facilities

  • Social sporting-based activities

  • Swimming pools, both public and shared

  • Saunas, bathhouses and wellness centres

  • Community and recreation centres (these facilities may remain open for the purposes of hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks or homeless services)

  • Boot camps and personal training services 

  • Skate parks, playgrounds and outdoor gyms 



Actions for people caring for a sick family member


If you look after or provide care for a sick family member with flu-like symptoms, take these actions:

  • Care for the sick person in a single room.

  • Keep the door closed and windows open where possible.

  • Keep the number of carers to a minimum.

  • Always use a hand sanitiser before and after entering the room, or wash hands with soap and water.

  • Keep the sick person’s crockery and utensils separate to the rest of the household.

  • If available, wear a surgical mask (single-use face mask) when you are in the sick person’s room.

  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly.

  • Dispose of tissues and masks in a sealed plastic bag and put in the usual household waste.

  • If your family member becomes unwell, get medical help by calling your doctor (GP) or the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.

  • If the unwell person is advised to visit the doctor or hospital, use a private car driven by the person or an existing close contact.  Do not call an ambulance or use a bus, tram, train, taxi or uber unless absolutely necessary.

  • For serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, dial 000 and ask for an ambulance.



Actions for parents and guardians


If you are a parent or guardian, take the following actions:

  • If a child/young person is unwell, keep them at home unless they need medical assistance.  Do not let them go to the shops, friend’s house, childcare or school. Keep them away from elderly grandparents and people with underlying medical conditions.

  • During the school holidays make sure your children do not mix with other children and restrict visitors to the home. Keep children home if possible.

  • Prepare for your child/young person to study at home should this become necessary in the future.

  • Plan for the possibility of your child/young person not attending childcare or school because of any future closure or because they are unwell. Discuss with your employer if needed.

  • If your child or young person is regularly cared for by grandparents or elderly family members, consider alternative options to prevent the transmission of illness.



Actions for organisations, workplaces or employers


Organisations and employers who are responsible for a workplace or venue should already be taking actions to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus. This includes any venue, such as a university, office building or any workplace.

A range of organisations are prohibited from operating.  See Ban on community and mass gatherings: Government Direction. For further information on direction please check your local Department of Health coronavirus section state emergency information.

Places of worship are not permitted to offer face to face services except for the conduct of weddings and funerals

  • Weddings may be held in places of worship (or other venues), but only with the couple, celebrant and two witnesses in attendance.

  • Funerals may be held in places of worship, funeral parlours or other venues, with a maximum of ten mourners in attendance.

For those organisations allowed to operate at this stage the following actions should be taken:

  • Cancel all staff travel.

  • Plan ways to enable physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres to reduce in-person contact for both staff and clients. 

  • In an enclosed space there should be on average no more than one person per four square metres of floor space. This is a directive by the Victorian Chief Health Officer and Victorian Government.

  • Provide a clearly visible sign for customers and staff stating how many people are allowed in your premises.

  • Close your work’s canteen/restaurant/café unless it provides takeaway or delivered food and beverage services.  See Actions for food and beverage services, hospitality venues.

  • Encourage flexible working arrangements, including working from home and off-peak travel if it is necessary to be physically present at work.

  • Purchase supplies to help limit infection, for example alcohol sanitisers and soap.

  • Provide and promote sanitisers for use on entering buildings.

  • Increase environmental cleaning. 

  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly, including desks, keyboards and change room surfaces.

  • In a change room, do not share items like towels and soap bars, and wash your hands after changing.

  • Open windows, enhance airflow, adjust air conditioning.

  • Promote preventive actions amongst your staff - lead by example.

  • Ensure the highest hygiene practices among food handlers and canteen staff.

  • Avoid large indoor meetings and lunchrooms and use outdoor venues.

  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home.

  • Plan for increased levels of staff absences.

  • Plan for what to do if staff arrive sick at work (e.g. identify an isolation room or separated area).

  • Venues with high volumes of movement such as shopping centres should take all the measures required at any workplace, particularly no more than one person per 4 square metres, and should prioritise environmental cleaning.

  • Display education materials that can be downloaded and printed from our coronavirus section.

  • Keep staff informed of the actions you are taking.

Please continually check your local Department of Health coronavirus section for updates on what is allowed in your state.