Physical distancing for coronavirus (COVID-19)

As we build a COVIDSafe Australia, everyone must continue to practise physical distancing and good hygiene, and stay at home if you are sick.

Keep your distance

One way to slow the spread of viruses, such as coronavirus, is physical distancing.

The more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread.

As states and territories ease restrictions, it is important everyone continues to stay 1.5 metres away from others wherever possible.

Image of two people practising social distancing
Read transcript

Coronavirus is most likely to spread from person to person when we come into close contact with one another.

We can all help stop the spread by keeping our distance.

This means do not shake hands, or exchange physical greetings, and wherever possible, stay at least 1.5 metres away from others.

It's also really important to practise good hygiene, especially after being in public places.

Together we can help stop the spread and stay healthy.

Visit to learn more.

Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra.

In public

Physical distancing in public means people:

  • keep 1.5 metres away from others wherever possible
  • avoid physical greetings such as handshaking, hugs and kisses
  • practise extra care if you are using public transport – read the guidelines (PDF, 165 KB).
  • avoid crowds – if you see a crowded space do not enter
  • avoid large public gatherings
  • practise good hygiene
  • stay at home if you have any cold or flu symptoms. Seek medical advice and get tested for COVID-19

    See important information on restrictions on public gatherings.

    See requirements in your state or territory.


    Australians should check their state or territory government restrictions to find out more about the restrictions in place where they live. As states and territories move through the steps in the 3–step framework for a COVIDSafe Australia, restrictions will reduce.

    If someone in your household is sick with cold or flu symptoms, you should:

    • care for the sick person in a single room, if possible
    • keep the number of carers to a minimum
    • keep the door to the sick person’s room closed. If possible, keep a window open
    • wear a surgical mask when you are in the same room as the sick person. The sick person should also wear a mask when other people are in the same room
    • protect at-risk family members by keeping them away from the sick person.  If possible, find them somewhere else to live while the family member is sick
    • seek medical advice and have them tested for COVID-19

    At work

    You should work from home if it works for you and your employer. If you cannot work from home and you are sick, you must not attend your workplace. You must stay at home and away from others.

    All workplaces must develop a COVID-19 plan in line with:

    Safe Work Australia has resources for workplaces including information about workers’ rights.

    The Department of Education, Skills and Employment website also has information for students, parents, education providers, job seekers and employers.

    To protect yourself, your co-workers and your customers:

    • stop shaking hands to greet others
    • avoid non-essential meetings. If needed, hold meetings via video conferencing or phone call
    • put off large meetings to a later date
    • hold essential meetings outside in the open air if possible
    • promote good hand, sneeze and cough hygiene
    • provide alcohol-based hand rub for all staff
    • eat lunch at your desk or outside rather than in the lunch room
    • regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that many people touch
    • open windows or adjust air conditioning for more ventilation
    • limit food handling and sharing of food in the workplace
    • avoid non-essential travel
    • promote strict hygiene among food preparation (canteen) staff and their close contacts

    In schools

    If your child is sick, they must not go to school or childcare. You must keep them at home and away from others.

    To reduce the spread of viruses or germs in schools students and staff should continue to practise good hygiene.

    The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has issued updated advice on reducing the potential risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools.

    The AHPPC also issued a statement on risk management for re-opening boarding schools and school-based residential colleges.

    For more information on school operations, visit the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.

    Last updated: 
    23 September 2020

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