Social distancing guidance

Supplier: Clinical Supplies
15 June, 2020

This information sheet should be read in conjunction with the ‘Isolation guidance’ and ‘Advice for public gatherings’ information sheets, which can be found at www.health.gov.au/covid19-resources.

What is social distancing and why is it important?

Social distancing includes ways to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. It means less contact between you and other people.

Social distancing is important because COVID-19 is most likely to spread from person-to-person through:

  • direct close contact with a person while they are infectious or in the 24 hours before their symptoms appeared
  • close contact with a person with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes, or
  • touching objects or surfaces (such as doorknobs  or tables) contaminated from a cough or sneeze from a person with a confirmed infection, and then touching your mouth or face. 

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

What should I do?

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 10 people
  • going out for medical needs
  • providing care or support to another individual in a place other than your home
  • going to work if you cannot work from home
  • Australians are encouraged to work from home where they can. 

Attending barbers and hairdressers is allowed, but the four square metre rule per person must be strictly observed and personal contact during the patron’s visit should be minimised where possible. 

Visits to your house should be kept to a minimum, with a very small number of guests. Extended family gatherings, barbeques, birthday parties and house parties are not permitted.

You should also practise good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene:

  • wash your hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet
  • cover your cough and sneeze, dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser, and
  • avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people).

You can start a range of social distancing and low cost hygiene actions now.

These simple, common sense actions help reduce risk to you and to others. They will help to slow the spread of disease in our communities – and you can use them every day – in your home, workplace, school and while out in public. 

Social distancing at home

Households

To reduce the spread of germs1:

  • Practise good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene
  • Avoid handshaking and kissing
  • Regularly disinfect high touch surfaces, such as tables, kitchen benches and doorknobs 
  • Increase ventilation in the home by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning
  • Visit shops sparingly and buy more goods and services online if possible

Households where people are ill with COVID-19* (in addition to the measures above)

  • 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 and, if possible, a window open
  • Both the sick person and the people caring for them should wear a surgical mask when they are in the same room
  • Protect other vulnerable family members, such as people over 65 years or people with a chronic illness, including, if practicable, finding alternative accommodation

 

Social distancing in the workplace

If you are sick, you must not attend your workplace. You must stay at home and away from others.

To reduce the spread of germs in the workplace:

  • Stay at home wherever possible
  • Wear a KN95 face mask as a protection requirement
  • Stop handshaking as a greeting
  • Hold meetings via video conferencing or phone call
  • Defer large meetings
  • Hold essential meetings outside in the open air if possible
  • Promote good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene and provide hand sanitisers for all staff and workers
  • Take lunch at your desk or outside rather than in the lunch room
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly 
  • Consider opening windows and adjusting air conditioning for more ventilation
  • Limit food handling and sharing of food in the workplace
  • Reconsider non-essential business travel
  • Promote strictest hygiene among food preparation (canteen) staff and their close contacts

 

Social distancing in schools

To reduce the spread of germs in schools1:

    • If your child is sick, do not send them to school (or childcare)
    • Sanitise hands when entering school and at regular intervals
  • Defer activities that lead to mixing between classes and years
  • Avoid queuing and consider cancelling school assemblies
    • Promote a regular handwashing schedule
    • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly 
  • 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

 

Social distancing in public

To reduce the spread of germs:

    • Sanitise your hands wherever possible, including entering and leaving buildings
  • Use tap and pay rather than handling money if you can
  • Try to travel at quiet times and try to avoid crowds
  • Public transport workers and taxi drivers should open vehicle windows where possible, and regularly clean and disinfect high touch surfaces

More information 

For more information about reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, go to https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/getting-workplace-ready-for-covid-19.pdf  

For the latest advice, information and resources, go to www.health.gov.au 

Call the National Coronavirus Help Line on 1800 020 080. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.  

The phone number of your state or territory public health agency is available at www.health.gov.au/state-territory-contacts

If you have concerns about your health, speak to your doctor.