Protect yourself

Remember to practise good hand hygiene and physical distancing.

For the latest information on group sizes, visit the Groups and gatherings page.

How COVID-19 spreads

The virus can spread from person to person through:

  • close contact with an infectious person, including in the 24 hours before they started showing symptoms
  • contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
  • touching objects or surfaces that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person and then touching your mouth or face.

COVID-19 is a new disease, so there is no existing immunity in our community.

This means that COVID-19 can spread widely and quickly.

Practising good hygiene

Good hygiene practices mean you should:

  • wash your hands regularly for 20 to 30 seconds
  • use hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water is not available
  • use soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • when you cough and sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or cough into your elbow
  • throw used tissues into a bin immediately and wash your hands.

Hand sanitiser does not replace washing your hands after using the bathroom.

For downloadable posters and resources, visit the Signage and factsheets page .

Physical (social) distancing

Physical distancing means separating yourself from other people as much as possible when you’re in public places.

It can be very effective in slowing the spread of infectious diseases.

Physical distancing means you should:

  • stay home whenever possible
  • keep 1.5 metres between yourself and other people
  • avoid shaking hands, hugging or kissing other people
  • use ‘tap and go’ payments instead of cash
  • limit visits to people at risk. Many facilities, including hospitals and aged care, have rules and restrictions about visitors. Please check before you visit
  • follow the current restrictions on groups and gatherings
  • Seek medical attention if you feel unwell and develop any symptoms of COVID-19 .

Workplaces should have physical distancing measures in place. Visit the Business and Work page for sector-specific advice.

It is important to stay socially connected, even while physically distancing.

Stay connected with others by phone, email, social media and online work platforms when possible.

Keep your home clean

General tips:

  • Follow good hygiene advice
  • Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces such as benchtops, desks and doorknobs
  • Clean and disinfect frequently used objects such as mobile phones, keys, wallets and work passes
  • Vacuum carpets and mop hard floors regularly
  • Increase the amount of fresh air available by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning
  • When cleaning, use a detergent-based product to physically clean surfaces then apply a disinfectant product or use a combination detergent and disinfectant product.

If someone is sick, wash their laundry separately in a hot wash (greater than 65°C for 10 mins).

You can also add a laundry sanitiser to the wash cycle water (along with the detergent).

Follow the directions on all laundry product labels.

Always wash your hands after handling dirty laundry.

Useful items to have in your home:

  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Soap and/or liquid handwash
  • Hand towels (paper or cloth)
  • Household disinfectant/detergent spray or wipes
  • Disposable surgical masks and/or cloth masks with three layers of cloth made following the instructions from the Department of Health.

Using masks - latest advice

Masks are not required in the ACT.

The health advice remains that where there is no community transmission of COVID-19, masks are not required. Exceptions include if you:

  • have COVID-like symptoms such as coughing and sneezing, and need to leave your home for an essential reason (like getting tested, seeking medical help or shopping for essential items like food or medication)
  • are in quarantine or self-isolation and need to leave your home for medical attention
  • are over 60 with underlying health problems and are unable to stay 1.5 metres away from others
  • have underlying health issues and are unable to stay 1.5 metres away from others.

Masks are just one line of defence against COVID-19. Our best defences continue to be physical distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene, staying at home if you are unwell, and getting tested if you have symptoms.

This fact sheet outlines further guidance on the use of masks in the ACT.

Personal protective equipment for the community and allied health services

The community sector plays an important role supporting people and families in the ACT.

The health and wellbeing of community sector staff and clients is our first priority.

The ACT Government’s Community Support Package will supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

This PPE supply is to help services and support vulnerable Canberrans.

Requests for PPE can be submitted through the PPE online request form.

More information for people with a disability is on the Community Services Directorate website.

This information is relevant for:

  • people with a disability
  • disability support providers, including NDIS
  • self-managing participants who use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Supplies of PPE are limited due to the pandemic.

We will prioritise requests based on advice from the ACT Chief Health Office and your needs.

If you can access PPE through the National Medical stockpile, we encourage you to do so.

If you have any questions, please email the Community Services Directorate.

Advice for at risk groups

Certain groups of people are at higher risk of developing severe illness with COVID-19.

The guidance below will help you understand your risk.

It is based on updated advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee on managing health risk as COVID-19 restrictions lift.

You may also like to download the ACT Health advice for employers and employees about managing COVID-19 health risks as restriction measures lift.

Regardless of the current situation in the ACT, you should:

  • practise physical distancing;
  • practise good cough and hand hygiene;
  • consider downloading the COVIDSafe app;
  • keep up to date with your vaccinations, including vaccination against seasonal flu; and
  • stay at home and get tested for COVID-19 if you are unwell with even mild cold or flu-like symptoms.

How can I manage my health risk during the COVID-19 pandemic?

  1. Consider your current risk of contracting COVID-19 in the community

    Your risk of becoming infected depends on contact with someone with COVID-19 or surfaces contaminated by the virus.

    In assessing your risk, the local situation is a major factor.

    When the ACT has low or no cases and no evidence of community transmission, then the risk of contracting COVID-19 is low for everyone.

  2. Consider your individual risk factors for severe infection with COVID-19

    Anyone who becomes ill with COVID-19 can develop severe symptoms, but some people are at greater risk than others.

    Your risk increases with older age or certain health conditions.

    Age is the strongest risk factor for developing severe COVID-19 illness and death. Risk increases as you get older, particularly for those over 70.

    Higher risk for serious illness and complications from COVID-19 also include people who:

    • Have had an organ transplant and/or are on immune suppressive therapy
    • Have had a bone marrow transplant in the last 24 months or are on immune suppressive therapy for graft versus host disease
    • Have a haematologic (blood) cancer e.g. leukaemia, lymphoma or myelodysplastic syndrome (diagnosed within the last 5 years) or
    • Are having chemotherapy or radiotherapy

    Other chronic health conditions are also associated with a risk of severe COVID-19.

    For more advice for people with chronic health conditions, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples may also be at increased risk of severe COVID-19 disease. They should be considered a priority population when assessing potential risk related to COVID-19.

    Talk to your doctor if you are not sure about your individual risk, or if you have questions about how you can best manage your health conditions.

  3. Consider your daily activities and the places you visit

    The COVID-19 situation can change quickly. You can keep up to date with the pattern of disease in the ACT by visiting the COVID website.

    If the number of COVID-19 cases increases in the ACT, you may need to change your activities and interactions. For example, events and workplace settings may increase your risk of contracting COVID-19 illness.

    Activities and events

    Activities and events that may increase your risk include activities that:

    • are in closed environments, crowded situations or involve close contact with others;
    • have large numbers of people in close contact (e.g. public transport at peak hour, weddings, protests or other large gatherings);
    • require physical activity and close contact (e.g. dancing or contact sport);
    • require speaking loudly or singing in an indoor environment (e.g. choirs, singing in church, shouting in a noisy environment);
    • require sharing objects with others (e.g. utensils at a buffet);
    • require sharing accommodation or amenities with others (e.g. cruise ships, hostels);
    • involve spending longer periods of time with others (the risk for exposure and transmission increases with time).

    Travelling to areas or going to events where there are higher case numbers may increase the risk of contracting COVID-19.

    Work and volunteer settings

    Some work or volunteer settings may also place you at higher risk of COVID-19, either through:

    • potential exposure to infected people, such as in health or aged-care;
    • working conditions where physical distancing is difficult (e.g. working in the disability or aged care sector);
    • multiple face-to-face interactions with others; and/or
    • working in a place known to have increased transmission of the virus (e.g. meat processing).

    If you are at increased risk of severe illness with COVID-19, you should develop an individual risk management plan with your employer.

    The plan should be specific to you, your work, your workplace and the number of cases in the community.

    You may also like to download the ACT Health advice for employers, employees and volunteers about managing COVID-19 health risks as restriction measures lift.

  4. Develop your own COVID-19 Action Plan

To help manage your COVID-19 health risk, you may want to develop your own COVID-19 action plan.

You can start your action plan by:

  • Speaking to your doctor to get a better idea of your risk.
  • Weighing up the risk of activities against what is important to you.
  • Looking for different activities to enjoy with lower risk of exposure.
  • Staying up to date with how many COVID-19 cases there are in your local community.
  • Planning how you will change your activities if COVID-19 cases increase.

A COVID-19 action plan template can be found here.

You may find it helpful to discuss your COVID-19 Action Plan with your GP.

Where can I get more information?

You can stay up-to-date with the COVID-19 situation by visiting www.covid19.act.gov.au or the ACT Health Facebook page.

Please visit the ACT Health website for advice on maintaining good mental health and wellbeing.

For information on support for those at risk, visit the Community Services Directorate website.

If you need medical help for routine medical issues, please contact your GP.

For all emergency medical issues contact 000.

Seniors

The Seniors Information Line run by the Council on The Ageing (COTA) ACT has staff to listen to your concerns and provide further advice.

You can call the Seniors Information Line on (02) 6282 3777 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

You can also visit the ACT Council on the Ageing website.

You can also download an information factsheet for resident villages residents and operators.

People with Disability

Canberra is an inclusive city and we want to ensure that our community continues to uphold these values during this time of crisis.
We want to ensure that people with disability in our community are supported and can access essential services throughout this health crisis.
Below is some information that may assist you during the COVID-19 health emergency.

Helplines

ACT COVID-19 Helpline: (02) 6207 7244
National Disability Information Helpline: 1800 643 787
COVID-19 Health Professionals Disability Advisory Service: 1800 131 330

Personal Protective Equipment

People with disability and disability support providers who use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as part of their support arrangements should continue to access PPE through their usual means.

Where this is no longer possible, they can be supported through a number of approaches: You can contact the National Medical Stockpile (NMS) by mailing NDISCOVIDPPE@health.gov.au for masks.

People with disability and disability support providers who cannot access PPE through usual means are eligible to apply to access PPE through a supply supported by ACT Government. Requests for PPE can be lodged through the completion of an online request form or emailing CSDPPE@act.gov.au

Extra trips from the Taxi Subsidy Scheme

If you are on the Taxi Subsidy Scheme and you need more trips on your Smartcard, you can request more by phoning: (02) 6207 0028 (Select Option 5, Sub Option 1 - Taxi Subsidy Scheme) or emailing: concessions@act.gov.au.

Planning tool for people with disability during COVID-19

A practical COVID-19 individual planning tool for people with disability has been developed and adapted for the ACT. Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness (PCEP) Planning for COVID-19 guide.

This is a guide to help people with disability to get the facts about (COVID-19) and to plan for how they will manage the impact of this situation.

The individual COVID-19 planning tool will assist you to plan for two situations that you might have to face during this COVID-19 pandemic. They might be:

  1. staying at home for a long period of time
  2. getting help if you or someone who supports you gets COVID-19 symptoms

There are more planning tools on the website, including an essential items checklist and a printable visitor door sign for people with higher vulnerability to the virus.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) hospital companion for people with disability

The COVID-19 companion can assist a person with disability if they need to go to hospital. The tool helps to convey important personal information to health professionals.

ACT COVID-19 Disability Strategy

The ACT COVID-19 Disability Strategy has been created to ensure that people with disability, their families, carers and the disability sector are supported through the COVID-19 health emergency and during the post-emergency transition.

COVID-19 An ACT Operational Plan for People with Disability

The ACT Government wants to ensure that people with disability in our community are supported and can access essential services throughout the COVID-19 health crisis.

The COVID-19 An ACT Operational Plan for People with Disability encompasses the many responses that have already been completed or are underway in partnership with people with disability and service providers, as well as those actions that have not yet commenced.

The Plan outlines the ACT’s response to the Australian Government’s Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability and responsibilities for implementation.

It seeks to:

  • reduce the risk of infection in people with disability and facilitate community preparedness; and
  • optimise health and support responses to help recovery and minimise further transmission.

The Plan is a living document. It will be updated and revised as needed.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

For more information on COVID-19 you can download one of our factsheets:

You can read the updated COVID-19 advice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and remote communities.
Visit the Community Services Directorate website for information on available support.
Visit the ACT Health website for more information about available health support.

Food relief and other community support

For more information about the support available to you, please visit the Access help page.

Download the COVIDSafe App

Download the app by visiting the Australian Department of Health website or directly from the App Store or Google Play.

Information such as how the app works and your privacy while using the app is available on the Australian Department of Health website

acknowledgement icon
Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

Last Updated: September 10 2020