Note: Restrictions have been in place for gyms and fitness centres. These restrictions are being relaxed in different jurisdictions at different times. Gyms and fitness centres must only operate to the extent permissible in each state or territory. The information below outlines measures which cover all aspects of the services offered by gyms and fitness centres (including group fitness studios). What services and equipment are able to be offered will depend on what is permissible in your jurisdiction. 

The information below provides guidance on physical distancing during step 2 of the 3-step framework for a COVIDSafe Australia. Some states and territories have updated public health directions to adjust physical distancing rules in line with local circumstances, for example, revising the one person per 4 square metres rule to one person per 2 square metres in some circumstances. 

For more information about physical distancing requirements, go to your relevant state and territory government website. You can also go to our Public health directions and COVIDSafe plans page for links to enforceable government directions.

Physical distancing (also referred to as ‘social distancing’) refers to the requirement that people distance themselves from others. The current advice from the Department of Health is that everyone must keep at least 1.5 metres apart from others (outside of their family unit) where possible. In addition, in a given space, there must be a 4 square metres of space per person where possible. 

You should also consider whether you are required to comply with any physical distancing measures issued under public health directions in your state or territory. See also our information on public health directions – COVID-19 for links to enforceable government directions in your state or territory.

Why is physical distancing important? 

Physical distancing is necessary because the most likely way of catching the virus is by breathing in micro-droplets from another person sneezing, coughing, or exhaling. By ensuring there is 4 square metres of space per person and maintaining a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others where possible, you will reduce the likelihood of exposure to micro-droplets of others. 

Current health advice is that everyone, including people at workplaces, must implement physical distancing measures wherever possible.  

How do I make sure there is 4 square metres of space per person?

To achieve the 4 square metre ‘rule’ you would: 

  • calculate the area of the room (e.g. length of room in metres x width of room in metres = area of room in square metres), and 
  • divide the area of the room by 4. 

For example, if you had a room that was 160 square metres in size, you should only allow up to 40 people in the room, to allow each person to have 4 square metres of space.  

Note: you also must comply with any gathering size limits in place under public health directions in your state or territory.

How do I make sure there is 1.5 metres between people?

You should consider and make adjustments to the layout of the workplace, the physical activities members are engaging in and your workflows to enable workers and members to keep at least 1.5 metres apart to continue performing their duties or physical activities. For example, this could be achieved by, spreading out fitness equipment to increase distancing, or considering floor and/or wall markings and signage to identify 1.5 metres distancing requirements. 

You should also review tasks and processes that usually require close interaction and identify ways to modify these to increase physical distancing between workers and members and between members themselves where it is practical and safe to do so.  

Do I need to do both? That is, make sure there is 4 square metres per person and physical distancing of 1.5 metres?

Yes. You need to do what you can to make sure there is 4 square metres in your workplace per person and keep everyone apart at least 1.5 metres, where possible. 

What physical distancing measures do I need to implement in my workplace?

Below are measures to ensure physical distancing is achieved in gyms and fitness centres, as well as group fitness studios. Not all activities may be currently permissible in your state or territory and therefore may not be relevant to your organisation at this time. You should check what activities are permissible in your state or territory, as well as limits on gathering sizes and specific physical distancing requirements applicable to your business. Only operate based on what activities are permissible. See also our information on public health directions – COVID-19 for links to enforceable government directions in your state or territory.

Remember, you must consult with workers and their representatives (e.g. health and safety representatives (HSRs)) on health and safety matters relating to COVID-19, including what control measures to put in place in your workplace.  

Reception and waiting areas in gyms, fitness centres and group fitness studios

  • If your reception or waiting area is in an enclosed space separate to the group fitness room or gym or training floor, provide each person with 4 square metres of space in accordance with general health advice or where required by public health directions issued by your state or territory.
  • To achieve 4 square metres, calculate the area of the enclosed space (length multiplied by width in metres) and divide by 4. This will provide you with the maximum number of people you should have in the space at any one time.  To help achieve 4 square metres of space per person:
    • stagger class session times and allow for a minimum of 10 minutes between classes so there is no overlap between members in the waiting or reception area or have different entrances and exits to avoid interaction
    • if the waiting or reception area for your group fitness class is particularly small ask members to wait in their cars or outside (if safe to do) until the class before them has finished
    • cordon off common areas where members may otherwise congregate, and
    • split or stagger workers’ shifts to reduce the number of workers in reception areas at any given time. Schedule time between shifts so that there is no overlap of staff arriving at and leaving the workplace or have different entrances and exits to avoid interaction. 
  • Direct workers and members to keep 1.5 metres of distance between them in accordance with general health advice where possible or where required by public health directions in your state or territory. To achieve the best outcomes for physical distancing: 
    • put signs around the reception area including outside the entrance and create floor markings to identify 1.5 metres distance. Your staff could wear a badge as a visual reminder to each other and members of physical distancing requirements
    • establish entry and exit walkways and clearly mark these with adequate signage
    • use physical barriers, such as clear perspex where appropriate 
    • consider whether you can implement measures to limit the number of members gathering around lockers or pigeon holes, and
    • encourage workers to use other methods such as mobile phone or radio to communicate rather than face to face interaction -e.g. workers on the gym floor who want to talk to reception. 
  • You may need to redesign the layout of the reception or waiting area to enable members and workers to keep at least 1.5 metres apart while exercising. This can be achieved by spreading out furniture. If changing the physical layout of the facility, your layout must allow for workers and members to enter, exit and move about both under normal working conditions and in an emergency without risks to their health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable.  
  • If members are required to sign-in consider whether they can do so using contactless methods.
    • If using an electronic device or you require members to sign in using pen and paper, provide alcohol-based hand sanitiser for members to use before and after signing in and out. 
    • Keep member contact details up to date and retain attendance records for classes and general entry. This may assist local health authorities if contact tracing is required. 

Change rooms and shower areas in gym, fitness centres and group fitness studios

  • You should minimise use of change rooms and shower areas where possible by encouraging members to only use them if they need to. You should also check whether public health directions in your state or territory restrict the use of such facilities. 
  • Encourage members to enter the gym or class already dressed in their workout gear where possible and to shower at home.
  • As change rooms and shower areas are enclosed areas you should provide each person with 4 square metres of space in accordance with general health advice or where required by public health directions issued by your state or territory.  
    • To achieve this, calculate the area of the enclosed space (length multiplied by width in metres) and divide by 4. This will provide you with the maximum number of people you should have in the space at any one time. 
  • To help you achieve 4 square metres of space per person in change rooms:
    • restrict the number of members allowed in the facility at any one time - place signage clearly displaying maximum occupancy numbers at the entrance, and
    • ask members to leave the facility once they have finished.
  • Direct members to keep 1.5 metres of distance between themselves where possible when using change rooms and shower facilities in accordance with general health advice. To achieve the best outcomes for physical distancing: 
    • implement measures in combination with measures for 4 square metres spacing, as set out above 
    • put signs in and around the facilities and create wall or floor markings to identify 1.5 metres distance. 
    • consider restricting the use of every second locker - where this is not possible, ask users to wait in an appropriate place away from their locker, when a locker next to theirs is being used, and
    • spread out furniture such as benches and chairs in change rooms. If changing the physical layout of the facility, your layout must allow for workers and members to enter, exit and move about both under normal working conditions and in an emergency without risks to their health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable.  
  • If change room and other facilities remain open you must undertake additional cleaning and disinfecting measures.

Gym and training floor areas 

  • Provide each person with 4 square metres of space in enclosed areas in accordance with general health advice or where required by public health directions issued by your state or territory.
    • Depending on the layout of your gym or fitness centre you may have multiple enclosed training floors or areas– e.g. if your cardio area and free weights area are divided by a wall (whether that wall be temporary or fixed) the rule would apply separately to each area. 
    • To achieve 4 square metres, calculate the area of the enclosed space (length multiplied by width in metres) and divide by 4. This will provide you with the maximum number of people you should have in the space at any one time.  
  • To help you achieve 4 square metres of space per person limit the number of workers and members on the gym or training floor area by:
    • restricting the number of members allowed in particular areas. Place signage advising members of how many people are allowed in the area. 
    • implementing ‘fitness sessions’ for particular areas with requirements for members to register (ideally online) for specific sessions – e.g. for an indoor rock climbing or bouldering centre, consider setting up sessions of one hour to limit the number of people who will be in the climbing areas at any given time
    • setting up a system whereby members can check online whether the gym or fitness centre is at capacity before visiting if you have the technology to do so. This may also help minimise the risk of workplace violence occurring if members are denied entry on arrival. See also our information on work-related violence 
    • asking members to leave the premises once they have completed their workout session, and
    • restricting membership recruitment programs e.g. ‘bring a friend for free’ days.
  • Direct workers and members to keep 1.5 metres of distance between them in accordance with general health advice where possible or where required by public health directions in your state or territory. 
  • The nature of some physical activities may result in members naturally maintaining distance (e.g. trampolining workouts). However, you should still implement the measures below to remind workers and members of distancing requirements.
  • To achieve the best outcomes for physical distancing: 
    • implement measures in combination with measures for 4 square metres spacing, as set out above 
    • put signs around the gym or training floor area and create wall or floor markings to identify 1.5 metres distance. Your staff could wear a badge as a visual reminder to each other and members of physical distancing requirements, and 
    • encourage workers to use other methods such as mobile phone or radio to communicate rather than face to face interaction - e.g. workers on the gym floor who want to talk to reception. 
  • You may need to redesign the layout of gym or training floor area to enable members and workers to keep at least 1.5 metres apart while exercising. This can be achieved by:
    • increasing spacing between fitness equipment. If this is not possible you may have to restrict access to certain pieces of equipment to enable members to maintain 1.5 metres between each other – e.g. restrict access to every second treadmill by turning them off and placing signs on them stating they are not to be used.
    • removing or cordoning off common areas where members may otherwise congregate
    • creating specific pathways for entering and exiting areas using floor or wall markings or physical barriers to direct foot traffic.
    • where available, using any outdoor space by relocating more readily moved equipment outside where weather permits and it is safe to do so – e.g. yoga mats.
    • spreading out more popular equipment throughout the premises to use less frequently used areas, where safe to do so – e.g. can treadmills lined up side by side be relocated.  
  • If changing the physical layout of the gym or training floor area, your layout must allow for workers and members to enter, exit and move about both under normal working conditions and in an emergency without risks to their health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable.  

Group fitness classes (including boxing, martial arts, yoga, dancing etc.)

  • Provide each person with 4 square metres of space in enclosed areas in accordance with general health advice or where required by public health directions issued by your state or territory.
    • To achieve this, calculate the area of the enclosed space (length multiplied by width in metres) and divide by 4. This will provide you with the maximum number of people you should have in the space at any one time.  
  • To help you achieve 4 square metres of space per person limit the number of persons in the class by:
    • staggering class session times and allowing for a minimum of 10 minutes between classes so there is no overlap between members arriving and leaving and to carry out cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
    • where possible, offering some classes online 
    • considering an online system to sign up to the class beforehand which limits capacity to the required numbers. This will eliminate the possibility of members turning up for class only to be told it is full and may also help minimise the risk of workplace violence occurring. See also our information on work-related violence 
    • restricting the number of persons allowed per class based on the size of the room and the nature of the fitness activity 
    • asking members to leave the premises once they have completed their session or class
    • restricting membership recruitment programs e.g. ‘bring a friend for free’ days
  • Direct workers and members to keep 1.5 metres of distance between them in accordance with general health advice or where required by public health directions issued by your state or territory.
  • The nature of some physical activities may result in members naturally maintaining distance (e.g. power yoga classes). However, you should still implement the below measures to remind workers and members of distancing requirements.
  • To achieve the best outcomes for physical distancing: 
    • implement measures in combination with measures for 4 square metres spacing, as set out above 
    • put signs around the group fitness room and create wall or floor markings to identify 1.5 metres distance. Your staff could wear a badge as a visual reminder to each other and members of physical distancing requirements
    • ensure class participants are adequately spread out around the room – e.g. use floor markings to indicate areas/zones for each person to set up in or use, and  
    • encourage  workers to use other methods such as mobile phone or radio to communicate rather than face to face interaction
  • You may need to suspend or modify activities that require close contact, unless the activities take place between members of the same household. For example in a martial arts or boxing class you may need to suspend sparring and use long or short bags instead of partner drills that involve glove and mitt/striking pads.
  • You may need to redesign the layout of group fitness areas to enable class participants and workers to keep at least 1.5 metres apart while exercising. This can be achieved by:
    • increasing spacing between fitness equipment such as exercise bikes 
    • creating specific pathways for entering and exiting the group fitness rooms, using floor or wall markings. 
    • where appropriate, use available outdoor space for classes where weather permits and it is safe to do so
  • If changing the physical layout of group fitness rooms, your layout must allow for workers and members to enter, exit and move about both under normal working conditions and in an emergency without risks to their health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable.  

Personal training including gym-based, outdoor or bootcamps

  • Personal trainers and clients should keep 1.5 metres of distance between them to the extent possible during personal training sessions. To achieve the best outcomes for physical distancing: 
    • tailor sessions to include only exercises that do not require physical contact between the trainer and the client/s
    • limit the number of clients per session. Where there are multiple clients ensure adequate spacing is maintained and provide each client with their own disinfected exercise equipment or ask them to supply their own and
    • where weather permits and it is safe to do so, use outdoor spaces where available. 
  • When spotting a client during heavy lifts to ensure their safety, it will not be possible for a personal trainer to maintain 1.5 metres of distance. In these circumstances you should seek to limit physical interactions between the personal trainer and client where you can. This could be achieved by:
    • limiting the frequency of sets that require a spotter, and
    • where possible and safe, standing to the side or behind the member so there is no face to face interaction.

You should also consider whether you are required to comply with any physical distancing measures issued under public health directions in your state or territory. See our information on public health directions – COVID-19 for links to enforceable government directions in your state or territory.

See also our information on in-home services if you are a personal trainer or fitness instructor who provides training in a member’s home. 

Child care facilities 

See our information on physical distancing measures for early childhood education 

Café and retail facilities 

See our information on physical distancing measures for hospitality and retail

Staff gatherings and training

  • Postpone or cancel non-essential gatherings, meetings or training. 
  • If gatherings, meetings or training are essential: 
    • use non face-to-face options to conduct – e.g. electronic communication such as tele and video conferencing 
    • if a non face-to-face option is not possible, ensure face-to-face time is limited, that is make sure the gathering, meeting or training goes for no longer than it needs to 
    • hold the gathering, meeting or training it in spaces that enable workers to keep at least 1.5 metres apart and with 4 square metres of space per person – e.g. outdoors or in large conference rooms 
    • limit the number of attendees in a gathering, meeting or training. This may require, for example, multiple training sessions to be held, and 
    • ensure adequate ventilation if held indoors. 

Staff facilities

  • Reduce the number of workers using staff common areas at a given time – e.g. by staggering meal breaks and start times. 
  • Spread out furniture in common areas. If changing the physical layout of the workplace, you must ensure the layout allows for workers to enter, exit and move about the workplace both under normal working conditions and in an emergency without risks to their health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable.  
  • Place signage about physical distancing around the workplace. Our website has links to a range of posters and resources to help remind workers and others of the risks of COVID-19 and the measures that are necessary to stop its spread. These posters can be placed around the workplace and in member-facing work environments (e.g. workplace entrances). Consideration needs to be given to how to communicate with workers and others for who English is not their first language.   
  • Consider providing separate amenities for workers and others in the workplace – for 
  • example separate bathroom facilities for workers and visitors/members. 

Lifts 

  • Even if workers and members only spend a short amount of time in a lift each day, they are still at risk of being exposed to COVID-19 when using a lift. 
  • There is no requirement to provide 4 square metres of space per person in lifts, however you must still ensure, as far as you reasonably can, that people maintain physical distancing in lifts and lift waiting areas.
  • Safe use of lifts is best achieved through a combination of measures, determined in consultation with workers, other employers in the building and the building owner/manager. This includes 
    • reducing the number of workers and members who need to use the lift at the same time (e.g. stagger class start and finish times)
    • implementing physical distancing measures in the lift waiting area including queueing systems and advising of passenger limits for each lift
    • ensuring that when in the lift people maintain physical distance to the extent possible and practice good hygiene including cough and sneezing etiquette and washing hands or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser after exiting the lift.
  • If workers and members are to use the stairs or emergency exits as alternatives to using lifts, you must consider if any new risks may arise (e.g. increased risk of slip trips and falls) and consider how other existing WHS measures will be impacted (e.g. emergency plans and procedures See also our information on emergency plans)

Deliveries, contractors and visitors attending the workplace

  • Non-essential visits to the workplace should be cancelled or postponed (e,g, ‘pop up’ market stalls to promote other businesses such as clothing and fitness supplements).   
  • Minimise the number of workers attending to deliveries and contractors as much as possible. 
  • Delivery drivers and other contractors who need to attend the workplace, to provide maintenance or repair services or perform other essential activities, should be given clear instructions of your requirements while they are on site.  
  • Ensure handwashing facilities, or if not possible, alcohol-based hand sanitiser, is readily available for workers after physically handling deliveries. 
  • Direct visiting delivery drivers and contractors to remain in vehicles and use contactless methods such as mobile phones to communicate with your workers wherever possible.  
  • Direct visiting delivery drivers and contractors to use alcohol-based hand sanitiser before handling products being delivered. 
  • Use, and ask delivery drivers and contractors to use, electronic paper work where possible, to minimise physical interaction. Where possible, set up alternatives to requiring signatures. For instance, see whether a confirmation email or a photo of the loaded or unloaded goods can be accepted as proof of delivery or collection (as applicable). If a pen or other utensil is required for signature you can ask that the pen or utensil is cleaned or disinfected before use. For pens, you may wish to use your own. 

On-going review and monitoring

If physical distancing measures introduce new health and safety risks (e.g. because they impact communication or mean that less people are doing a task), you need to manage those risks too. 
Put processes in place to regularly monitor and review the implementation of physical distancing measures to ensure they are being followed and remain effective 

My members cannot maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres when performing certain physical activities. What do I do?

The nature of some physical activities requires members to be close together such as spotting a partner on weights, partner drills for boxing or martial arts, or performing a dance routine. 
You will need to either suspend or modify the activity to ensure members who are not part of the same household maintain physical distance. For example, in a martial arts or boxing class you may need to suspend sparring and use long or short bags (that are spaced the appropriate distance apart) instead of partner drills that involve glove and mitt/striking pads.

My workers cannot maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres when performing work. Does this mean they cannot perform work?

It will not always be possible for workers and members to keep 1.5 metres apart at all times at the workplace. For example, workers may have to work closely with members when providing them advice on how to perform an exercise or spotting them to ensure safety. Some tasks require workers to be in close proximity to be carried out safely, such as lifting and moving heavy objects.
Working in close contact increases the risk of workers and members being exposed to COVID-19. You must consider whether the work task must be completed or could be rescheduled to a later date. If the task must be completed and your workers or members will be in close contact, you must undertake a risk assessment to determine what control measures are reasonably practicable in the circumstances to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks from COVID-19. For example, if close contact with others is unavoidable, you must implement other control measures such as: 

  • minimising the number of people within an area at any time. Limit access to the workplace or parts of the workplace to essential workers only and a set number of members
  • staggering start, finish and break times where appropriate 
  • moving work tasks to different areas of the workplace or off-site (e.g. online classes) if possible 
  • if possible, separating workers into dedicated teams and have them work the same shift or work in a particular area and consider whether these dedicated teams can have access to their own meal areas or break facilities, and 
  • ensuring each worker has their own equipment.  

Do I need to provide personal protective equipment to workers who are in close contact with each other? 

You must ensure workers comply with physical distancing requirements where possible. In circumstances where the nature of the task requires workers to be in close contact (e.g. personal trainer is spotting a member performing a heavy lift), you must put control measures in place that minimise the time workers spend with each other or with members in the workplace. You must also ensure workers and members are practicing good hygiene.  

If you have a situation where, despite other control measures, workers will be in close contact with each other or with members for longer than the recommended time (i.e. more than 15 minutes face to face cumulative over the course of a week or more than 2 hours in a shared closed space), consider the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).  

Workers must be trained in the proper use of PPE. Be aware of WHS risks that may arise as a result of workers using and wearing PPE. 

Do workers need to practice physical distancing when on a lunch break or when travelling to and from work?

Yes. Workers must always comply with any state or territory public health directions or orders. This includes maintaining a physical distance of 1.5 metres between people.  
In some states and territories there are strict limitations on gatherings in public places. This means that in some circumstances, workers cannot eat lunch together in a park or travel together in a vehicle to and from work.  

You should refer to your state or territory health authority for further information on specific restrictions in place under public health directions or orders in your state or territory. 

Do I have to maintain physical distancing if I’m visiting a client’s home?

Yes. The model Work Health and Safety laws apply even when the workplace is a private home or dwelling. The client’s home is a workplace when you or your worker is there to perform work 

You or your worker should talk to the client to ensure they understand the risks of COVID-19 and about the control measures you must implement – including physical distancing - to minimise the risk of exposing them and your worker to the virus.  
 


 

The information below provides guidance on physical distancing during step 2 of the 3-step framework for a COVIDSafe Australia. Some states and territories have updated public health directions to adjust physical distancing rules in line with local circumstances, for example, revising the one person per 4 square metres rule to one person per 2 square metres in some circumstances. 

For more information about physical distancing requirements, go to your relevant state and territory government website. You can also go to our Public health directions and COVIDSafe plans page for links to enforceable government directions.

Watch our video for information on physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your small business. 

Watch video on YouTube Download Transcript

Note: Restrictions have been in place for gyms and fitness centres. These restrictions are being relaxed in different jurisdictions at different times. Gyms and fitness centres must only operate to the extent permissible in each state or territory. The information below outlines measures which cover all aspects of the services offered by gyms and fitness centres (including group fitness studios). What services and equipment are able to be offered will depend on what is permissible in your jurisdiction. 

Physical distancing (also referred to as ‘social distancing’) refers to the requirement that people distance themselves from others. The current advice from the Department of Health is that everyone must keep at least 1.5 metres apart from others (outside of their family unit) where possible. In addition, in a given space, there must be a 4 square metres of space per person where possible. 

You should also consider whether you are required to comply with any physical distancing measures issued under public health directions in your state or territory. See also our information on public health directions – COVID-19 for links to enforceable government directions in your state or territory.

Why is physical distancing important? 

Physical distancing is necessary because the most likely way of catching the virus is by breathing in micro-droplets from another person sneezing, coughing, or exhaling. By ensuring there is 4 square metres of space per person and maintaining a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others where possible, you will reduce the likelihood of exposure to micro-droplets of others. 

Current health advice is that everyone, including people at workplaces, must implement physical distancing measures wherever possible.  

How do I make sure there is 4 square metres of space per person?

To achieve the 4 square metre ‘rule’ you would: 

  • calculate the area of the room (e.g. length of room in metres x width of room in metres = area of room in square metres), and 
  • divide the area of the room by 4. 

For example, if you had a room that was 160 square metres in size, you should only allow up to 40 people in the room, to allow each person to have 4 square metres of space.  

Note: you also must comply with any gathering size limits in place under public health directions in your state or territory.

How do I make sure there is 1.5 metres between people?

You should consider and make adjustments to the layout of the workplace, the physical activities members are engaging in and your workflows to enable workers and members to keep at least 1.5 metres apart to continue performing their duties or physical activities. For example, this could be achieved by, spreading out fitness equipment to increase distancing, or considering floor and/or wall markings and signage to identify 1.5 metres distancing requirements. 

You should also review tasks and processes that usually require close interaction and identify ways to modify these to increase physical distancing between workers and members and between members themselves where it is practical and safe to do so.  

Do I need to do both? That is, make sure there is 4 square metres per person and physical distancing of 1.5 metres?

Yes. You need to do what you can to make sure there is 4 square metres in your workplace per person and keep everyone apart at least 1.5 metres, where possible. 

What physical distancing measures do I need to implement in my workplace?

Below are measures to ensure physical distancing is achieved in gyms and fitness centres, as well as group fitness studios. Not all activities may be currently permissible in your state or territory and therefore may not be relevant to your organisation at this time. You should check what activities are permissible in your state or territory, as well as limits on gathering sizes and specific physical distancing requirements applicable to your business. Only operate based on what activities are permissible. See also our information on public health directions – COVID-19 for links to enforceable government directions in your state or territory.

Remember, you must consult with workers and their representatives (e.g. health and safety representatives (HSRs)) on health and safety matters relating to COVID-19, including what control measures to put in place in your workplace.  

Reception and waiting areas in gyms, fitness centres and group fitness studios

  • If your reception or waiting area is in an enclosed space separate to the group fitness room or gym or training floor, provide each person with 4 square metres of space in accordance with general health advice or where required by public health directions issued by your state or territory.
  • To achieve 4 square metres, calculate the area of the enclosed space (length multiplied by width in metres) and divide by 4. This will provide you with the maximum number of people you should have in the space at any one time.  To help achieve 4 square metres of space per person:
    • stagger class session times and allow for a minimum of 10 minutes between classes so there is no overlap between members in the waiting or reception area or have different entrances and exits to avoid interaction
    • if the waiting or reception area for your group fitness class is particularly small ask members to wait in their cars or outside (if safe to do) until the class before them has finished
    • cordon off common areas where members may otherwise congregate, and
    • split or stagger workers’ shifts to reduce the number of workers in reception areas at any given time. Schedule time between shifts so that there is no overlap of staff arriving at and leaving the workplace or have different entrances and exits to avoid interaction. 
  • Direct workers and members to keep 1.5 metres of distance between them in accordance with general health advice where possible or where required by public health directions in your state or territory. To achieve the best outcomes for physical distancing: 
    • put signs around the reception area including outside the entrance and create floor markings to identify 1.5 metres distance. Your staff could wear a badge as a visual reminder to each other and members of physical distancing requirements
    • establish entry and exit walkways and clearly mark these with adequate signage
    • use physical barriers, such as clear perspex where appropriate 
    • consider whether you can implement measures to limit the number of members gathering around lockers or pigeon holes, and
    • encourage workers to use other methods such as mobile phone or radio to communicate rather than face to face interaction -e.g. workers on the gym floor who want to talk to reception. 
  • You may need to redesign the layout of the reception or waiting area to enable members and workers to keep at least 1.5 metres apart while exercising. This can be achieved by spreading out furniture. If changing the physical layout of the facility, your layout must allow for workers and members to enter, exit and move about both under normal working conditions and in an emergency without risks to their health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable.  
  • If members are required to sign-in consider whether they can do so using contactless methods.
    • If using an electronic device or you require members to sign in using pen and paper, provide alcohol-based hand sanitiser for members to use before and after signing in and out. 
    • Keep member contact details up to date and retain attendance records for classes and general entry. This may assist local health authorities if contact tracing is required. 

Change rooms and shower areas in gym, fitness centres and group fitness studios

  • You should minimise use of change rooms and shower areas where possible by encouraging members to only use them if they need to. You should also check whether public health directions in your state or territory restrict the use of such facilities. 
  • Encourage members to enter the gym or class already dressed in their workout gear where possible and to shower at home.
  • As change rooms and shower areas are enclosed areas you should provide each person with 4 square metres of space in accordance with general health advice or where required by public health directions issued by your state or territory.  
    • To achieve this, calculate the area of the enclosed space (length multiplied by width in metres) and divide by 4. This will provide you with the maximum number of people you should have in the space at any one time. 
  • To help you achieve 4 square metres of space per person in change rooms:
    • restrict the number of members allowed in the facility at any one time - place signage clearly displaying maximum occupancy numbers at the entrance, and
    • ask members to leave the facility once they have finished.
  • Direct members to keep 1.5 metres of distance between themselves where possible when using change rooms and shower facilities in accordance with general health advice. To achieve the best outcomes for physical distancing: 
    • implement measures in combination with measures for 4 square metres spacing, as set out above 
    • put signs in and around the facilities and create wall or floor markings to identify 1.5 metres distance. 
    • consider restricting the use of every second locker - where this is not possible, ask users to wait in an appropriate place away from their locker, when a locker next to theirs is being used, and
    • spread out furniture such as benches and chairs in change rooms. If changing the physical layout of the facility, your layout must allow for workers and members to enter, exit and move about both under normal working conditions and in an emergency without risks to their health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable.  
  • If change room and other facilities remain open you must undertake additional cleaning and disinfecting measures.

Gym and training floor areas 

  • Provide each person with 4 square metres of space in enclosed areas in accordance with general health advice or where required by public health directions issued by your state or territory.
    • Depending on the layout of your gym or fitness centre you may have multiple enclosed training floors or areas– e.g. if your cardio area and free weights area are divided by a wall (whether that wall be temporary or fixed) the rule would apply separately to each area. 
    • To achieve 4 square metres, calculate the area of the enclosed space (length multiplied by width in metres) and divide by 4. This will provide you with the maximum number of people you should have in the space at any one time.  
  • To help you achieve 4 square metres of space per person limit the number of workers and members on the gym or training floor area by:
    • restricting the number of members allowed in particular areas. Place signage advising members of how many people are allowed in the area. 
    • implementing ‘fitness sessions’ for particular areas with requirements for members to register (ideally online) for specific sessions – e.g. for an indoor rock climbing or bouldering centre, consider setting up sessions of one hour to limit the number of people who will be in the climbing areas at any given time
    • setting up a system whereby members can check online whether the gym or fitness centre is at capacity before visiting if you have the technology to do so. This may also help minimise the risk of workplace violence occurring if members are denied entry on arrival. See also our information on work-related violence 
    • asking members to leave the premises once they have completed their workout session, and
    • restricting membership recruitment programs e.g. ‘bring a friend for free’ days.
  • Direct workers and members to keep 1.5 metres of distance between them in accordance with general health advice where possible or where required by public health directions in your state or territory. 
  • The nature of some physical activities may result in members naturally maintaining distance (e.g. trampolining workouts). However, you should still implement the measures below to remind workers and members of distancing requirements.
  • To achieve the best outcomes for physical distancing: 
    • implement measures in combination with measures for 4 square metres spacing, as set out above 
    • put signs around the gym or training floor area and create wall or floor markings to identify 1.5 metres distance. Your staff could wear a badge as a visual reminder to each other and members of physical distancing requirements, and 
    • encourage workers to use other methods such as mobile phone or radio to communicate rather than face to face interaction - e.g. workers on the gym floor who want to talk to reception. 
  • You may need to redesign the layout of gym or training floor area to enable members and workers to keep at least 1.5 metres apart while exercising. This can be achieved by:
    • increasing spacing between fitness equipment. If this is not possible you may have to restrict access to certain pieces of equipment to enable members to maintain 1.5 metres between each other – e.g. restrict access to every second treadmill by turning them off and placing signs on them stating they are not to be used.
    • removing or cordoning off common areas where members may otherwise congregate
    • creating specific pathways for entering and exiting areas using floor or wall markings or physical barriers to direct foot traffic.
    • where available, using any outdoor space by relocating more readily moved equipment outside where weather permits and it is safe to do so – e.g. yoga mats.
    • spreading out more popular equipment throughout the premises to use less frequently used areas, where safe to do so – e.g. can treadmills lined up side by side be relocated.  
  • If changing the physical layout of the gym or training floor area, your layout must allow for workers and members to enter, exit and move about both under normal working conditions and in an emergency without risks to their health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable.  

Group fitness classes (including boxing, martial arts, yoga, dancing etc.)

  • Provide each person with 4 square metres of space in enclosed areas in accordance with general health advice or where required by public health directions issued by your state or territory.
    • To achieve this, calculate the area of the enclosed space (length multiplied by width in metres) and divide by 4. This will provide you with the maximum number of people you should have in the space at any one time.  
  • To help you achieve 4 square metres of space per person limit the number of persons in the class by:
    • staggering class session times and allowing for a minimum of 10 minutes between classes so there is no overlap between members arriving and leaving and to carry out cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
    • where possible, offering some classes online 
    • considering an online system to sign up to the class beforehand which limits capacity to the required numbers. This will eliminate the possibility of members turning up for class only to be told it is full and may also help minimise the risk of workplace violence occurring. See also our information on work-related violence 
    • restricting the number of persons allowed per class based on the size of the room and the nature of the fitness activity 
    • asking members to leave the premises once they have completed their session or class
    • restricting membership recruitment programs e.g. ‘bring a friend for free’ days
  • Direct workers and members to keep 1.5 metres of distance between them in accordance with general health advice or where required by public health directions issued by your state or territory.
  • The nature of some physical activities may result in members naturally maintaining distance (e.g. power yoga classes). However, you should still implement the below measures to remind workers and members of distancing requirements.
  • To achieve the best outcomes for physical distancing: 
    • implement measures in combination with measures for 4 square metres spacing, as set out above 
    • put signs around the group fitness room and create wall or floor markings to identify 1.5 metres distance. Your staff could wear a badge as a visual reminder to each other and members of physical distancing requirements
    • ensure class participants are adequately spread out around the room – e.g. use floor markings to indicate areas/zones for each person to set up in or use, and  
    • encourage  workers to use other methods such as mobile phone or radio to communicate rather than face to face interaction
  • You may need to suspend or modify activities that require close contact, unless the activities take place between members of the same household. For example in a martial arts or boxing class you may need to suspend sparring and use long or short bags instead of partner drills that involve glove and mitt/striking pads.
  • You may need to redesign the layout of group fitness areas to enable class participants and workers to keep at least 1.5 metres apart while exercising. This can be achieved by:
    • increasing spacing between fitness equipment such as exercise bikes 
    • creating specific pathways for entering and exiting the group fitness rooms, using floor or wall markings. 
    • where appropriate, use available outdoor space for classes where weather permits and it is safe to do so
  • If changing the physical layout of group fitness rooms, your layout must allow for workers and members to enter, exit and move about both under normal working conditions and in an emergency without risks to their health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable.  

Personal training including gym-based, outdoor or bootcamps

  • Personal trainers and clients should keep 1.5 metres of distance between them to the extent possible during personal training sessions. To achieve the best outcomes for physical distancing: 
    • tailor sessions to include only exercises that do not require physical contact between the trainer and the client/s
    • limit the number of clients per session. Where there are multiple clients ensure adequate spacing is maintained and provide each client with their own disinfected exercise equipment or ask them to supply their own and
    • where weather permits and it is safe to do so, use outdoor spaces where available. 
  • When spotting a client during heavy lifts to ensure their safety, it will not be possible for a personal trainer to maintain 1.5 metres of distance. In these circumstances you should seek to limit physical interactions between the personal trainer and client where you can. This could be achieved by:
    • limiting the frequency of sets that require a spotter, and
    • where possible and safe, standing to the side or behind the member so there is no face to face interaction.

You should also consider whether you are required to comply with any physical distancing measures issued under public health directions in your state or territory. See our information on public health directions – COVID-19 for links to enforceable government directions in your state or territory.

See also our information on in-home services if you are a personal trainer or fitness instructor who provides training in a member’s home. 

Child care facilities 

See our information on physical distancing measures for early childhood education 

Café and retail facilities 

See our information on physical distancing measures for hospitality and retail

Staff gatherings and training

  • Postpone or cancel non-essential gatherings, meetings or training. 
  • If gatherings, meetings or training are essential: 
    • use non face-to-face options to conduct – e.g. electronic communication such as tele and video conferencing 
    • if a non face-to-face option is not possible, ensure face-to-face time is limited, that is make sure the gathering, meeting or training goes for no longer than it needs to 
    • hold the gathering, meeting or training it in spaces that enable workers to keep at least 1.5 metres apart and with 4 square metres of space per person – e.g. outdoors or in large conference rooms 
    • limit the number of attendees in a gathering, meeting or training. This may require, for example, multiple training sessions to be held, and 
    • ensure adequate ventilation if held indoors. 

Staff facilities

  • Reduce the number of workers using staff common areas at a given time – e.g. by staggering meal breaks and start times. 
  • Spread out furniture in common areas. If changing the physical layout of the workplace, you must ensure the layout allows for workers to enter, exit and move about the workplace both under normal working conditions and in an emergency without risks to their health and safety so far as is reasonably practicable.  
  • Place signage about physical distancing around the workplace. Our website has links to a range of posters and resources to help remind workers and others of the risks of COVID-19 and the measures that are necessary to stop its spread. These posters can be placed around the workplace and in member-facing work environments (e.g. workplace entrances). Consideration needs to be given to how to communicate with workers and others for who English is not their first language.   
  • Consider providing separate amenities for workers and others in the workplace – for 
  • example separate bathroom facilities for workers and visitors/members. 

Lifts 

  • Even if workers and members only spend a short amount of time in a lift each day, they are still at risk of being exposed to COVID-19 when using a lift. 
  • There is no requirement to provide 4 square metres of space per person in lifts, however you must still ensure, as far as you reasonably can, that people maintain physical distancing in lifts and lift waiting areas.
  • Safe use of lifts is best achieved through a combination of measures, determined in consultation with workers, other employers in the building and the building owner/manager. This includes 
    • reducing the number of workers and members who need to use the lift at the same time (e.g. stagger class start and finish times)
    • implementing physical distancing measures in the lift waiting area including queueing systems and advising of passenger limits for each lift
    • ensuring that when in the lift people maintain physical distance to the extent possible and practice good hygiene including cough and sneezing etiquette and washing hands or using alcohol-based hand sanitiser after exiting the lift.
  • If workers and members are to use the stairs or emergency exits as alternatives to using lifts, you must consider if any new risks may arise (e.g. increased risk of slip trips and falls) and consider how other existing WHS measures will be impacted (e.g. emergency plans and procedures See also our information on emergency plans)

Deliveries, contractors and visitors attending the workplace

  • Non-essential visits to the workplace should be cancelled or postponed (e,g, ‘pop up’ market stalls to promote other businesses such as clothing and fitness supplements).   
  • Minimise the number of workers attending to deliveries and contractors as much as possible. 
  • Delivery drivers and other contractors who need to attend the workplace, to provide maintenance or repair services or perform other essential activities, should be given clear instructions of your requirements while they are on site.  
  • Ensure handwashing facilities, or if not possible, alcohol-based hand sanitiser, is readily available for workers after physically handling deliveries. 
  • Direct visiting delivery drivers and contractors to remain in vehicles and use contactless methods such as mobile phones to communicate with your workers wherever possible.  
  • Direct visiting delivery drivers and contractors to use alcohol-based hand sanitiser before handling products being delivered. 
  • Use, and ask delivery drivers and contractors to use, electronic paper work where possible, to minimise physical interaction. Where possible, set up alternatives to requiring signatures. For instance, see whether a confirmation email or a photo of the loaded or unloaded goods can be accepted as proof of delivery or collection (as applicable). If a pen or other utensil is required for signature you can ask that the pen or utensil is cleaned or disinfected before use. For pens, you may wish to use your own. 

On-going review and monitoring

If physical distancing measures introduce new health and safety risks (e.g. because they impact communication or mean that less people are doing a task), you need to manage those risks too. 
Put processes in place to regularly monitor and review the implementation of physical distancing measures to ensure they are being followed and remain effective 

My members cannot maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres when performing certain physical activities. What do I do?

The nature of some physical activities requires members to be close together such as spotting a partner on weights, partner drills for boxing or martial arts, or performing a dance routine. 
You will need to either suspend or modify the activity to ensure members who are not part of the same household maintain physical distance. For example, in a martial arts or boxing class you may need to suspend sparring and use long or short bags (that are spaced the appropriate distance apart) instead of partner drills that involve glove and mitt/striking pads.

My workers cannot maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres when performing work. Does this mean they cannot perform work?

It will not always be possible for workers and members to keep 1.5 metres apart at all times at the workplace. For example, workers may have to work closely with members when providing them advice on how to perform an exercise or spotting them to ensure safety. Some tasks require workers to be in close proximity to be carried out safely, such as lifting and moving heavy objects.
Working in close contact increases the risk of workers and members being exposed to COVID-19. You must consider whether the work task must be completed or could be rescheduled to a later date. If the task must be completed and your workers or members will be in close contact, you must undertake a risk assessment to determine what control measures are reasonably practicable in the circumstances to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks from COVID-19. For example, if close contact with others is unavoidable, you must implement other control measures such as: 

  • minimising the number of people within an area at any time. Limit access to the workplace or parts of the workplace to essential workers only and a set number of members
  • staggering start, finish and break times where appropriate 
  • moving work tasks to different areas of the workplace or off-site (e.g. online classes) if possible 
  • if possible, separating workers into dedicated teams and have them work the same shift or work in a particular area and consider whether these dedicated teams can have access to their own meal areas or break facilities, and 
  • ensuring each worker has their own equipment.  

Do I need to provide personal protective equipment to workers who are in close contact with each other? 

You must ensure workers comply with physical distancing requirements where possible. In circumstances where the nature of the task requires workers to be in close contact (e.g. personal trainer is spotting a member performing a heavy lift), you must put control measures in place that minimise the time workers spend with each other or with members in the workplace. You must also ensure workers and members are practicing good hygiene.  

If you have a situation where, despite other control measures, workers will be in close contact with each other or with members for longer than the recommended time (i.e. more than 15 minutes face to face cumulative over the course of a week or more than 2 hours in a shared closed space), consider the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).  

Workers must be trained in the proper use of PPE. Be aware of WHS risks that may arise as a result of workers using and wearing PPE. 

Do workers need to practice physical distancing when on a lunch break or when travelling to and from work?

Yes. Workers must always comply with any state or territory public health directions or orders. This includes maintaining a physical distance of 1.5 metres between people.  
In some states and territories there are strict limitations on gatherings in public places. This means that in some circumstances, workers cannot eat lunch together in a park or travel together in a vehicle to and from work.  

You should refer to your state or territory health authority for further information on specific restrictions in place under public health directions or orders in your state or territory. 

Do I have to maintain physical distancing if I’m visiting a client’s home?

Yes. The model Work Health and Safety laws apply even when the workplace is a private home or dwelling. The client’s home is a workplace when you or your worker is there to perform work 

You or your worker should talk to the client to ensure they understand the risks of COVID-19 and about the control measures you must implement – including physical distancing - to minimise the risk of exposing them and your worker to the virus.  
 


 

The information below provides guidance on physical distancing during step 2 of the 3-step framework for a COVIDSafe Australia. Some states and territories have updated public health directions to adjust physical distancing rules in line with local circumstances, for example, revising the one person per 4 square metres rule to one person per 2 square metres in some circumstances. 

For more information about physical distancing requirements, go to your relevant state and territory government website. You can also go to our Public health directions and COVIDSafe plans page for links to enforceable government directions.

Physical distancing  (also referred to as ‘social distancing’) refers to the requirement that people distance themselves from others.  The current advice from the Department of Health is that everyone must keep at least 1.5 metres apart from others (outside of their family unit) where possible. In addition, in a given space, there must be 4 square metres of space per person where possible. 

Your workplace may also need to comply with physical distancing measures issued under public health directions in your state or territory. See also our information on public health directions – COVID-19 for links to enforceable government directions in your state or territory.

Why is physical distancing important?

Physical distancing is necessary because the most likely way of catching the virus is by breathing in micro-droplets from another person sneezing, coughing, or exhaling. By ensuring there is 4 square metres of space per person and maintaining a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others where possible, you will reduce the likelihood of exposure to micro-droplets of others. 

Current health advice is that everyone, including people at workplaces, must implement physical distancing measures wherever possible.  For information on the measures your employer should be implementing, see our employer information for your industry.

What if I cannot maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres when performing work?

It will not always be possible for you to keep 1.5 metres apart from other workers or members at all times. For example, you may have to work closely with members when providing them advice on how to perform an exercise or spotting them to ensure safety. Some tasks require you to be in close proximity with other workers to be carried out safely, such as lifting and moving heavy objects.

Working in close contact with others increases your risk of being exposed to COVID-19. In these situations, your employer may consider delaying the task or seek to modify the task. Your employer must consult with you and relevant health and safety representatives on how to perform the work task safely, including where maintaining a physical distance of 1.5 metres is not possible. For example, if close contact with others is unavoidable, your employer must implement other control measures 

For information on the measures your employer should be implementing see our employer information for Gyms and fitness centres.

When working in close contact with others, you must practise good hygiene by washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or by using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser (with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol as the active ingredient).

Does my employer need to provide me with personal protective equipment if I am required to work in close contact with others?

You must comply with physical distancing requirements where possible. In circumstances where the nature of the task requires you to be in close contact with others your employer must put control measures in place that minimise the time you spend with other persons.
If the nature of your work task is such that even with additional control measures in place, you will either be:

  • face to face with a person for longer than 15 minutes over a course of a week or
  • in a closed shared space with a person for more than 2 hours,

you may need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), where it is available and safe to do so (e.g. disposable gloves, face protection).

Your employer must consult you and your relevant health and safety representative about the use of PPE and any WHS risks that may arise from using it.

Your employer must provide you with information and training on how to use and wear PPE.

What if the members at my gym/fitness centre cannot maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres when performing certain physical activities?

The nature of some physical activities requires members to be close together such as partner drills for boxing or martial arts or performing a dance routine. 
Your employer will need to either suspend or modify the activity to ensure members who are not part of the same household maintain physical distance. For example in a martial arts or boxing class your employer may need to suspend sparring and use long or short bags (that are spaced the appropriate distance apart) instead of partner drills that involve glove and mitt/striking pads.

Do I need to practice physical distancing when on a lunch break or when travelling to and from work?

Yes. You must always comply with any state or territory public health directions or orders. This includes maintaining a physical distance of 1.5 metres between people in public places and when travelling to and from work.
In some states and territories there are strict limitations on gatherings in public places. This means that in some circumstances, workers cannot eat lunch together in a park or travel together in a vehicle to and from work.

Do I have to maintain physical distancing in a client’s home?

Yes. The model Work Health and Safety laws apply even when the workplace is a private home or dwelling. The client’s home is a workplace when you are there to perform work.

You or your employer should talk to the client to ensure they understand the risks of COVID-19 and about the control measures you must implement – including physical distancing - to minimise the risk of exposing them and your worker to the virus. 

For information on the measures your employer should be implementing, see our employer information for Gyms and fitness centres.
 

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