Social distancing for coronavirus (COVID-19)

Everyone must practise social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Keep your distance

One way to slow the spread of viruses, such as coronavirus, is social distancing (also called physical distancing).

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

Image of two people practising social distancing
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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

Social distancing in public means people:

  • stay at home and only go out if it is absolutely essential
  • keep 1.5 metres away from others
  • avoid physical greetings such as handshaking, hugs and kisses
  • use tap and go instead of cash
  • travel at quiet times and avoid crowds
  • avoid public gatherings and at risk groups like older people
  • practise good hygiene

See important information on restrictions on public gatherings.


All Australians are required to stay home unless it is absolutely necessary to go outside.

Australians are permitted to leave home for the essentials, such as:

  • shopping for food
  • exercising — in a public space such as a park, limited to no more than 2 people
  • going out for medical appointments or to the pharmacy
  • providing care or support to another person in a place other than your home
  • going to work if you cannot work from home.

Australians should work from home where they can.

Steps for social distancing in all homes include:

  • keeping visitors to a minimum
  • regularly disinfecting surfaces that are touched a lot, such as tables, kitchen benches, hand rails and doorknobs
  • increasing ventilation in the home by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning

If someone in your household is sick, 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. At-risk people include those aged over 65 years or people with a chronic illness. If possible, find them somewhere else to live while the family member is sick

At work

If you can, work from home. 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.

Steps for social distancing in the workplace include:

  • stop shaking hands to greet others
  • consider cancelling 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

Information for employers and jobseekers is available on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.

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:

  • wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser when entering school, and at regular intervals
  • stop activities that lead to mixing between classes and years
  • avoid queuing
  • cancel school assemblies
  • have a regular handwashing schedule
  • regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that many people touch
  • conduct lessons outdoors where possible
  • consider opening windows and adjusting conditioning for more ventilation
  • promote strictest hygiene among food preparation (canteen) staff and their close contacts

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

Keep in touch with others

You can still keep in touch with loved ones while you practise social distancing:

  • use video chats
  • make phone calls to people you would normally catch up with in person
  • use online groups to interact
  • chat with neighbours while keeping 1.5 metres apart
  • look after your mental health. Visit Head to Health for more information
Last updated: 
31 March 2020

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