Advice for public gatherings and visits to vulnerable groups

From the Australian Government, Department of Health:

Public gatherings significantly increase the risk of COVID-19 spreading. On 29 March the National Cabinet agreed to further limit most indoor and outdoor non-essential gathering to 2 people. Rules on essential gatherings are also in place. Find out what limits apply.


Why these limits are important

These limits help to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They are especially important for at risk people, such as older people and those with chronic conditions.

Individual states and territories may choose how to reinforce the requirements.

Non-essential gatherings

Stay at home unless you are:

  • going to work or education (if you are unable to do so at home)
  • shopping for essential supplies such as groceries, return home without delay
  • going out for personal exercise in the neighbourhood, on your own or with one other
  • attending medical appointments or compassionate visits

Whenever you are out of the home, always practice good physical distancing and hand hygiene.

This is especially important for people over the age of 70, those over 65 years who have existing health concerns and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the aged of 50 who have existing health concerns. These groups should limit the contact with others as much as possible when away from home.

The following facilities were restricted from opening from midday local time 23 March 2020:

  • pubs, registered and licensed clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
  • gyms and indoor sporting venues
  • cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos and night clubs
  • restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery

From 12:00am on 26 March, these restrictions were extended to the following:

  • food courts (except for take away)
  • auction houses, real estate auctions and open houses
  • personal services ( beauty, nail, tanning, waxing and tattoo salons)
  • spa and massage parlours, excluding health related services such as physiotherapy
  • amusement parks, arcades and play centres (indoor and outdoor)
  • strip clubs, brothels and sex on premises venues.
  • galleries, national institutions, historic sites and museums
  • health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre and spin facilities, saunas, bathhouses and wellness centres and swimming pools
  • community facilities such as community halls, libraries and youth centres, RSL and PCYC
  • gaming and gambling venues
  • indoor and outdoor markets (excluding food markets). States and territories will make their own announcements about this.

Roadside facilities for truck driver lounges can remain open, providing the facilities and patrons exercise social distancing and good hygiene. These facilities are only open to truck drivers. Allowing these facilities to operate ensures the health and safety of heavy vehicle drivers is maintained, while supporting the critical movement of goods and services around Australia.

From 3 April, churches and other places of worship, will be considered places of work so services can be streamed to the community. This will ensure that religious services, including Easter services, remain accessible to congregations. Services may be conducted and streamed providing:

  • only essential staff are present
  • the venue/facility remains closed to the public
  • social distancing principles are adhered to — 1 person per 4 square metres

Weddings can be conducted with no more than 5 people, including the couple, the celebrant and the witnesses. The 4 square metre rule and social distancing must be observed.

Funerals must be limited to no more than 10 people. The 4 square metre rule and social distancing must be observed.

Hairdressers and barbers can continue to operate under strict new rules. The 4 square metre rule and social distancing must be observed.

Hotels, hostels, bed and breakfast, campsites, caravan parks and boarding houses will be a decision for each state and territory.

The health advice on schools has not changed and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) does not recommend that schools be shut at this time. Some states may end their first term early.

If parents choose to keep their children home from schools that are open, they must be responsible for their children’s conduct and make sure they adhere to social distancing.

States and territories are making decisions regarding schools based on local circumstances. Visit your state or territory government website for more information.

Essential gatherings

Essential activities include:

  • essential workplaces, where you cannot work from home
  • health care settings
  • pharmacies
  • food shopping
  • schools and universities, where you cannot study from home
  • public transport and airports

These essential gatherings must apply social distancing and good hygiene practices, including:

  • being able to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres between people
  • providing hand hygiene products and suitable rubbish bins, with frequent cleaning and waste disposal

Accessing allied health services

Allied health services remain open. Clients and staff must adhere to social distancing requirements where possible.

Accessing telehealth services

Medicare-subsidised telehealth is available to all Australians, including telephone and video conferencing. This means people are more easily able to get the health care they need without leaving their home.

Contact your health care provider to find out whether you can access their services via telehealth.

Aged care facilities

Special restrictions remain in place for aged care facilities to protect older Australians.

Public transport

Public transport is essential at this stage but will be reviewed regularly.

Always use appropriate social distancing and hygiene practices when travelling on public transport.

Non-essential travel is to be avoided.

Localised Department of Health websites (specific to COVID-19):

You may find that depending on where you live, each state/territory may have slightly different advice regarding social distancing and limits of numbers within social gatherings.  Stay up-to-date by reading the health information in your specific state:









Local Arthritis Offices


Last updated: 8 April 2020 Resource(s):Australian Government, Department of Health: Australian Government, Department of Health: