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.

What is physical distancing and how does it prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Physical distancing (also referred to as ‘social distancing’) refers to the requirement that people distance themselves from others.  

COVID-19 spreads from person to person through contact with droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets may fall directly into the person’s eyes, nose or mouth if they are in close contact with the infected person. A person may also be infected if they touch a surface contaminated with the droplets and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes before washing their hands.

Current health advice states that in order to reduce the risk of contact and droplet spread from a person, directly or indirectly, and from contaminated surfaces, people should maintain physical distance of at least 1.5 metres, practice good hand hygiene and engage in routine cleaning and disinfection of surfaces. 

Physical distancing can also include requirements for there to be 4 square metres of space per person in a room or enclosed space, as well as limits on gathering sizes. These requirements differ between industries and between states and territories. For example, some states and territories have updated public health directions to adjust physical distancing rules in line with local circumstances, such as 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 applicable to your business, 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.

Do I need to implement physical distancing measures in my workplace?

Yes. It is your duty under work health and safety laws to manage the risk of a person in your workplace spreading and contracting COVID-19, including the risk that persons with COVID-19 enter the workplace. Physical distancing is one of the key ways to lower the risk of COVID-19 being spread or contracted at your workplace.  

The risk of COVID-19 should be treated in the same way as any other workplace hazard – by applying a risk management approach. 

In consultation with your workers, including volunteers, and their representatives (e.g. health and safety representatives (HSRs)), you will need to assess the likelihood and degree of harm people may experience if exposed to COVID-19 and then implement the most effective control measures that are reasonably practicable to manage the risk. The control measures you implement should include outcomes that support physical distancing and operate alongside measures encouraging good hygiene amongst workers and others as well as regular and thorough cleaning of the workplace.

To meet your WHS duty you should be continually monitoring and reviewing the risks to the health and safety of workers and others, as well as the effectiveness of control measures put in place to eliminate or minimise these risks. You must also assess any new or changed risks arising from COVID-19, for example customer aggression, high work demand or working in isolation.

Further guidance on the risk management process is available in the Code of Practice: How to manage work health and safety risks.

You may also need to comply with physical distancing measures issued under public health directions in your state or territory. Each state and territory has directions that reflect local circumstances. For more information about physical distancing requirements, go to your relevant state or territory government website. You can also go to our public health directions and COVIDSafe plans page for links to government health directions. 

How do the public health directions in my state or territory interact with my WHS duty?

You must comply with your state or territory’s public health directions that apply to your business. 

Your WHS duty is to do all that you reasonably can to manage the risks of a person contracting and/or spreading COVID-19 in your workplace. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to implement control measures in order to meet your WHS duty that go beyond the minimum requirements stated in public health directions or advised by public health authorities. For example, public health directions may state you can have up to 10 customers in your shop at any one time. However, in undertaking your risk assessment you may determine that due to the layout of the workplace and your work processes, having 10 customers in the store would not effectively support physical distancing outcomes. Instead, limiting your store to 8 customers at a time would ensure everyone can maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres from each other.

How do I determine which physical distancing measures to implement to minimise the risk of COVID 19 spreading in my workplace?

To determine which physical distancing measures will be most effective in your workplace, you will need to undertake a risk assessment.

A risk assessment is part of the risk management process which involves identifying where the risk arises in your workplace, assessing the risks (including the likelihood of them happening), controlling the risks and reviewing these controls regularly. These steps remain the same whether you are conducting a risk assessment in relation to work health and safety generally, or specifically in relation to COVID-19.

In order to determine the most effective physical distancing measures you will need to: 

  • identify all activities or situations where people in your workplace may be in close proximity to each other,
  • assess the level of risk that people in these activities or situations may contract and/or spread COVID-19 in your workplace, and
  • determine what control measures are reasonably practicable to implement based on the assessed level of risk. 

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

See also our information on key considerations for undertaking a risk assessment – COVID-19

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

Below are suggested measures to ensure physical distancing is achieved in your industry. Certain activities may not be permissible or there may be specific requirements in your state or territory at this time and therefore some of the proposed measures may not be relevant to your workplace. For more information about physical distancing requirements, go to your relevant state or territory government website. You can also go to our public health directions and COVIDSafe plans page for links to government health directions. 

Remember, you must do all that is reasonably practicable to manage the risk of people contracting and/or spreading COVID-19. See also our guidance on determining what is reasonably practicable for more information.

Also 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.  

What physical distancing measures do I need to implement for workers who perform work at a client’s premises?

If your business undertakes work for clients at their premises there are a number of steps you must take to ensure you and any of your workers keep safe from the risks of COVID-19 while on site. 

This guidance is intended for consultants, auditors, sale representatives and client engagement workers undertaking work at a client’s premises.

You should also refer to our other industry guidance, with respect to measures to implement within your own physical workplace. For example, see our guidance for offices for information on measures to implement for your business’ office building or space. 

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 at your workplace.  

Worker and client interactions and work tasks

In the first instance, you should look at implementing arrangements that would allow for your workers to minimise the work they undertake at the client premises. Meetings between workers and clients should be conducted using other methods rather than face-to-face interaction where possible. This may include using electronic communication via email, teleconference and videoconference, or shared document access systems wherever possible and appropriate. It is recognised that some tasks, such as safety auditing or equipment certification/maintenance, cannot be undertaken remotely.

Where a project or engagement would usually require multiple workers visiting a client’s premises, you should consider whether the on-site work could be completed by a smaller number of workers who are assisted remotely by other workers in your workplace or at home. For example, a business owner could send a video of an existing retail fit out to a sales representative ahead of a client meeting to assist in planning for a new display. Planning as much as possible will assist to reduce the duration or number of visits required.

Where your worker is required to visit and/or work at a client’s premises, before attending a client’s workplace, you or your worker need to talk to your client about what measures they have in place to achieve physical distancing at the client’s premises. To assist with this discussion, you may wish to refer to our guidance for the relevant industry of the workplace your worker will be visiting. You should provide the client with information on the measures you are implementing for your workers and your expectations of the client.

Information received from this discussion should be used to assess the risks associated with your worker visiting the client’s premises – see further our information on risk assessments. Your worker must not attend the client’s premises if the client has not implemented adequate physical distancing or other measures to reduce the risk of your worker being exposed to COVID-19.

Workers should be advised that they have the authority to not enter the client’s site, or to leave at any time if the agreed control measures are not in place or are breached by the client’s workers. 

You should direct your workers to maintain physical distancing with clients in accordance with general health advice where possible.

  • meetings between workers and clients should be conducted using other methods such as mobile phone, email or teleconferencing rather than face to face interaction where possible 
  • if a non face-to-face meeting is not possible, ensure face-to-face time with clients is limited and that meetings do not go longer than needed. Require clients to hold meetings with your workers in spaces that enable all participants to keep at least 1.5 metres apart and with 4 square metres of space per person
  • request that the clients limit physical interaction with your workers. For example, request that:
    • only essential workers attend meetings
    • the client nominates a dedicated worker to be the face-to-face liaison with your worker
    • if a worker needs to see different areas of the client’s workplace, for example a building site, either ask non-essential workers to leave the area or schedule a time when there are limited workers on site where possible and appropriate, and
  • If your worker is required to be working at a client’s workplace for an extended period of time, for example an auditor completing an audit, request that the client provide a dedicated work area (e.g. an office) that meets physical distancing requirements and is separate to the client’s general workforce.

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 clients to keep 1.5 metres apart at all times at the workplace. For example, workers may have to work closely with each other or others because of the nature of the task and some tasks require workers to be in close proximity to be carried out safely. 

Working in close contact increases the risk of workers 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 workers and customers 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 
  • staggering start, finish and break times where appropriate
  • moving work tasks to different areas of the workplace or offsite 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 or tools.  

Personal protective equipment (PPE) may also be appropriate in some circumstances. See also our information on PPE below. 

On-going review and monitoring

  • To assist with contact tracing where required, ensure you keep detailed up-to-date records of the client premises where your workers have worked and request that workers keep records of persons they have substantial meetings or interactions with while on the client’s premises.
  • If physical distancing measures introduce new health and safety risks (e.g. because they impact communication, mean that less people are doing a task, or increase the likelihood of client aggression), you need to ensure you and your client are also managing those risks. 
  • Put processes in place to regularly monitor and review the implementation of physical distancing measures to ensure they are being followed and remain effective. Implement regular consultation and de-brief meetings with your workers to receive reports on practices and risks they may have observed at the client’s premises so that you can raise these with the client or if required implement additional risk reduction measures for your worker.

My workers need to travel in a vehicle together for work purposes. How do they practice physical distancing?

You must reduce the number of workers travelling together in a vehicle for work purposes. You should ensure that only two people are in a 5 seat vehicle – the driver and a worker behind the front passenger seat. Only one worker should be in a single cab vehicle. 

These measures may mean: 

  • more of your vehicles are on the road at one time  
  • more workers are driving and for longer periods than usual (if driving by themselves).  

Because of this, you should review your procedures and policies for vehicle maintenance and driver safety to ensure they are effective and address all possible WHS risks that arise when workers drive for work purposes.  

If workers are required to travel together for work purposes and the trip is longer than 15 minutes, air conditioning must be set to external airflow rather than to recirculation or windows should be opened for the duration of the trip.  

You must also clean vehicles more frequently, no matter the length of the trip, but at least following each use by workers. 

See also our information on cleaning.   

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.  

See also our information on In-home services
 

 

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

What is physical distancing and how does it prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Physical distancing (also referred to as ‘social distancing’) refers to the requirement that people distance themselves from others.  

COVID-19 spreads from person to person through contact with droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets may fall directly into the person’s eyes, nose or mouth if they are in close contact with the infected person. A person may also be infected if they touch a surface contaminated with the droplets and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes before washing their hands.

Current health advice states that in order to reduce the risk of contact and droplet spread from a person, directly or indirectly, and from contaminated surfaces, people should maintain physical distance of at least 1.5 metres, practice good hand hygiene and engage in routine cleaning and disinfection of surfaces. 

Physical distancing can also include requirements for there to be 4 square metres of space per person in a room or enclosed space, as well as limits on gathering sizes. These requirements differ between industries and between states and territories. For example, some states and territories have updated public health directions to adjust physical distancing rules in line with local circumstances, such as 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 applicable to your business, 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.

Do I need to implement physical distancing measures in my workplace?

Yes. It is your duty under work health and safety laws to manage the risk of a person in your workplace spreading and contracting COVID-19, including the risk that persons with COVID-19 enter the workplace. Physical distancing is one of the key ways to lower the risk of COVID-19 being spread or contracted at your workplace.  

The risk of COVID-19 should be treated in the same way as any other workplace hazard – by applying a risk management approach. 

In consultation with your workers, including volunteers, and their representatives (e.g. health and safety representatives (HSRs)), you will need to assess the likelihood and degree of harm people may experience if exposed to COVID-19 and then implement the most effective control measures that are reasonably practicable to manage the risk. The control measures you implement should include outcomes that support physical distancing and operate alongside measures encouraging good hygiene amongst workers and others as well as regular and thorough cleaning of the workplace.

To meet your WHS duty you should be continually monitoring and reviewing the risks to the health and safety of workers and others, as well as the effectiveness of control measures put in place to eliminate or minimise these risks. You must also assess any new or changed risks arising from COVID-19, for example customer aggression, high work demand or working in isolation.

Further guidance on the risk management process is available in the Code of Practice: How to manage work health and safety risks.

You may also need to comply with physical distancing measures issued under public health directions in your state or territory. Each state and territory has directions that reflect local circumstances. For more information about physical distancing requirements, go to your relevant state or territory government website. You can also go to our public health directions and COVIDSafe plans page for links to government health directions. 

How do the public health directions in my state or territory interact with my WHS duty?

You must comply with your state or territory’s public health directions that apply to your business. 

Your WHS duty is to do all that you reasonably can to manage the risks of a person contracting and/or spreading COVID-19 in your workplace. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to implement control measures in order to meet your WHS duty that go beyond the minimum requirements stated in public health directions or advised by public health authorities. For example, public health directions may state you can have up to 10 customers in your shop at any one time. However, in undertaking your risk assessment you may determine that due to the layout of the workplace and your work processes, having 10 customers in the store would not effectively support physical distancing outcomes. Instead, limiting your store to 8 customers at a time would ensure everyone can maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres from each other.

How do I determine which physical distancing measures to implement to minimise the risk of COVID 19 spreading in my workplace?

To determine which physical distancing measures will be most effective in your workplace, you will need to undertake a risk assessment.

A risk assessment is part of the risk management process which involves identifying where the risk arises in your workplace, assessing the risks (including the likelihood of them happening), controlling the risks and reviewing these controls regularly. These steps remain the same whether you are conducting a risk assessment in relation to work health and safety generally, or specifically in relation to COVID-19.

In order to determine the most effective physical distancing measures you will need to: 

  • identify all activities or situations where people in your workplace may be in close proximity to each other,
  • assess the level of risk that people in these activities or situations may contract and/or spread COVID-19 in your workplace, and
  • determine what control measures are reasonably practicable to implement based on the assessed level of risk. 

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

See also our information on key considerations for undertaking a risk assessment – COVID-19

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

Below are suggested measures to ensure physical distancing is achieved in your industry. Certain activities may not be permissible or there may be specific requirements in your state or territory at this time and therefore some of the proposed measures may not be relevant to your workplace. For more information about physical distancing requirements, go to your relevant state or territory government website. You can also go to our public health directions and COVIDSafe plans page for links to government health directions. 

Remember, you must do all that is reasonably practicable to manage the risk of people contracting and/or spreading COVID-19. See also our guidance on determining what is reasonably practicable for more information.

Also 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.  

What physical distancing measures do I need to implement for workers who perform work at a client’s premises?

If your business undertakes work for clients at their premises there are a number of steps you must take to ensure you and any of your workers keep safe from the risks of COVID-19 while on site. 

This guidance is intended for consultants, auditors, sale representatives and client engagement workers undertaking work at a client’s premises.

You should also refer to our other industry guidance, with respect to measures to implement within your own physical workplace. For example, see our guidance for offices for information on measures to implement for your business’ office building or space. 

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 at your workplace.  

Worker and client interactions and work tasks

In the first instance, you should look at implementing arrangements that would allow for your workers to minimise the work they undertake at the client premises. Meetings between workers and clients should be conducted using other methods rather than face-to-face interaction where possible. This may include using electronic communication via email, teleconference and videoconference, or shared document access systems wherever possible and appropriate. It is recognised that some tasks, such as safety auditing or equipment certification/maintenance, cannot be undertaken remotely.

Where a project or engagement would usually require multiple workers visiting a client’s premises, you should consider whether the on-site work could be completed by a smaller number of workers who are assisted remotely by other workers in your workplace or at home. For example, a business owner could send a video of an existing retail fit out to a sales representative ahead of a client meeting to assist in planning for a new display. Planning as much as possible will assist to reduce the duration or number of visits required.

Where your worker is required to visit and/or work at a client’s premises, before attending a client’s workplace, you or your worker need to talk to your client about what measures they have in place to achieve physical distancing at the client’s premises. To assist with this discussion, you may wish to refer to our guidance for the relevant industry of the workplace your worker will be visiting. You should provide the client with information on the measures you are implementing for your workers and your expectations of the client.

Information received from this discussion should be used to assess the risks associated with your worker visiting the client’s premises – see further our information on risk assessments. Your worker must not attend the client’s premises if the client has not implemented adequate physical distancing or other measures to reduce the risk of your worker being exposed to COVID-19.

Workers should be advised that they have the authority to not enter the client’s site, or to leave at any time if the agreed control measures are not in place or are breached by the client’s workers. 

You should direct your workers to maintain physical distancing with clients in accordance with general health advice where possible.

  • meetings between workers and clients should be conducted using other methods such as mobile phone, email or teleconferencing rather than face to face interaction where possible 
  • if a non face-to-face meeting is not possible, ensure face-to-face time with clients is limited and that meetings do not go longer than needed. Require clients to hold meetings with your workers in spaces that enable all participants to keep at least 1.5 metres apart and with 4 square metres of space per person
  • request that the clients limit physical interaction with your workers. For example, request that:
    • only essential workers attend meetings
    • the client nominates a dedicated worker to be the face-to-face liaison with your worker
    • if a worker needs to see different areas of the client’s workplace, for example a building site, either ask non-essential workers to leave the area or schedule a time when there are limited workers on site where possible and appropriate, and
  • If your worker is required to be working at a client’s workplace for an extended period of time, for example an auditor completing an audit, request that the client provide a dedicated work area (e.g. an office) that meets physical distancing requirements and is separate to the client’s general workforce.

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 clients to keep 1.5 metres apart at all times at the workplace. For example, workers may have to work closely with each other or others because of the nature of the task and some tasks require workers to be in close proximity to be carried out safely. 

Working in close contact increases the risk of workers 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 workers and customers 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 
  • staggering start, finish and break times where appropriate
  • moving work tasks to different areas of the workplace or offsite 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 or tools.  

Personal protective equipment (PPE) may also be appropriate in some circumstances. See also our information on PPE below. 

On-going review and monitoring

  • To assist with contact tracing where required, ensure you keep detailed up-to-date records of the client premises where your workers have worked and request that workers keep records of persons they have substantial meetings or interactions with while on the client’s premises.
  • If physical distancing measures introduce new health and safety risks (e.g. because they impact communication, mean that less people are doing a task, or increase the likelihood of client aggression), you need to ensure you and your client are also managing those risks. 
  • Put processes in place to regularly monitor and review the implementation of physical distancing measures to ensure they are being followed and remain effective. Implement regular consultation and de-brief meetings with your workers to receive reports on practices and risks they may have observed at the client’s premises so that you can raise these with the client or if required implement additional risk reduction measures for your worker.

My workers need to travel in a vehicle together for work purposes. How do they practice physical distancing?

You must reduce the number of workers travelling together in a vehicle for work purposes. You should ensure that only two people are in a 5 seat vehicle – the driver and a worker behind the front passenger seat. Only one worker should be in a single cab vehicle. 

These measures may mean: 

  • more of your vehicles are on the road at one time  
  • more workers are driving and for longer periods than usual (if driving by themselves).  

Because of this, you should review your procedures and policies for vehicle maintenance and driver safety to ensure they are effective and address all possible WHS risks that arise when workers drive for work purposes.  

If workers are required to travel together for work purposes and the trip is longer than 15 minutes, air conditioning must be set to external airflow rather than to recirculation or windows should be opened for the duration of the trip.  

You must also clean vehicles more frequently, no matter the length of the trip, but at least following each use by workers. 

See also our information on cleaning.   

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.  

See also our information on In-home services
 

What is physical distancing and how does it prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Physical distancing (also referred to as ‘social distancing’) refers to the requirement that people distance themselves from others.  

COVID-19 spreads from person to person through contact with droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets may fall directly into the person’s eyes, nose or mouth if they are in close contact with the infected person. A person may also be infected if they touch a surface contaminated with the droplets and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes before washing their hands.

Current health advice states that in order to reduce the risk of contact and droplet spread from a person, directly or indirectly, and from contaminated surfaces, people should maintain physical distance of at least 1.5 metres, practice good hand hygiene and engage in routine cleaning and disinfection of surfaces. 

Physical distancing can also include requirements for there to be 4 square metres of space per person in a room or enclosed space, as well as limits on gathering sizes. These requirements differ between industries and between states and territories. For example, some states and territories have updated public health directions to adjust physical distancing rules in line with local circumstances, such as 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 applicable to your business, 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.

What if I cannot always maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres?

It will not always be possible for you to keep 1.5 metres apart from customers at the workplace. Some tasks will also require you and other workers to be in close proximity in order 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 information on the measures your employer should be implementing see our employer information for your industry.

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 people.

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.

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 while working at a client’s premises?

Yes. While working at a client’s premises you should follow all measures that the client has implemented to manage the risk of COVID-19 in their workplace, including physical distancing measures. You employer should also implement measures, in consultation with you and the client, to manage the risks to you while working at the client’s premises. 

See our employer information for your industry to learn more about what measures your employer should take to keep you safe at the workplace.

Talk to your employer about any safety concerns you may have such as unsafe practices you may observe at the client’s premises. Your employer can then raise these with the client and, if required, implement additional risk reduction measures for you.

You can find more information about your right to refuse to carry out or stop unsafe work in the workers’ rights section.

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 Mobile consulting, client engagement and sales.
 

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