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
- 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:
- 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.
There are a range of activities that require some restrictions to remain in place for them to occur in a COVID-safe way. Specifically, see below advice on dancing and singing.
Dancing carries a high risk of transmission of COVID-19 as it is difficult for people who are dancing to maintain physical distancing.
Dance areas tend to be small and they encourage crowding. There is also a strong likelihood that people will not remain within their known social groups.
Dancing has previously been discouraged through COVID-19 risk mitigation guidance.
However, as restrictions ease, venues and event organisers may now wish to consider allowing dancing to take place.
If licensed venues (including nightclubs) wish to permit dancing, they will need to review their COVID Safety Plans to implement risk mitigation strategies to reduce the risks associated with the activity. Advice is as follows:
- Venues must have a dedicated dance area.
- As the activity presents a higher risk, venues should carefully monitor the number of people in a dance area at any one time to avoid overcrowding. Venues must limit the number of people in an indoor or outdoor dedicated dance area using one person per two square metres.
- Encourage patrons to dance within their social group only and to avoid mixing with people they do not know. This can be done through signage across the venue.
- If venues have an outdoor space, consider using this area to allow dancing to take place – noting that outdoor activities are safer than indoors.
These particular requirements do not apply to dance schools or dance classes.
Event organisers who are considering arranging an event for which dancing is a key activity should first review the COVID Safe Event Protocol.
Singing carries a high risk of transmission of COVID, due to increased droplet spread. While singing is currently permitted in the ACT, venues and event organisers should take steps to minimise the risks associated with this activity.
- Choirs and performers should maintain a minimum of two metres from each other and from the audience/ congregation.
- Congregational singing is discouraged. However, if congregations wish to allow singing they need to include this in their COVID Safety Plan and ensure that members maintain a minimum of 1.5 metres from each other whilst singing.
- Additional cleaning should be undertaken of areas or equipment in range of singers/performers.
Mandatory masks in Canberra Airport and on flights
Under a public health direction effective from 11.59pm on Friday 22 January 2021, face masks are mandatory for people aged 12 and over, including workers who interact with the public, while inside the Canberra Airport terminal and during domestic commercial flights in and out of Canberra.
Although face masks are not required to be worn outside the terminal of Canberra Airport, passengers embarking and disembarking a flight on the tarmac must keep them on.
There are some exceptions, including:
- Infants and children under 12 years
- People with a medical condition or disability which makes wearing a mask unsuitable
- During an emergency
- When eating, drinking or taking medication
- When removing the mask is required for communicating effectively, for example, with someone who is hard of hearing
- When wearing a mask is a risk to health and safety
- When someone’s identity needs to be confirmed, for example, through security gates
- Airport workers and air crew who are not interacting directly with passengers or members of the public.
Face masks must be designed or made to be worn over the mouth and nose and should fit securely around your face to provide the wearer with protection against infection.
A scarf or bandana is not considered an appropriate face mask.
Advice about masks in the ACT
While there is currently no community transmission of COVID-19 in the ACT and the use of face masks is not generally required, people should be prepared for situations where a mask may be required.
In the ACT, masks are recommended if you:
- Have COVID-like symptoms such as coughing and sneezing, and need to leave your home for an essential reason (like getting tested or seeking medical help)
- Are in quarantine or isolation and need to leave your home for medical attention.
Under a Public Health Direction effective from 11.59pm on Friday 22 January 2021, face masks are mandatory inside the Canberra Airport terminal and during domestic commercial flights in and out of Canberra. More information is available in the above section about masks on flights and in the airport.
Certain groups of people are also at higher risk of developing severe illness with COVID-19. Talk to your GP about how you can manage your own health risk
People should personally source these face masks, remembering that single use masks should not be reused; and reusable masks should be washed and dried after every use and stored in a clean, dry place.
The NSW Government provides useful information about what kind of masks are suitable, where to get them and how to wear them.
Tips on using face masks
- Wash or sanitise your hands before putting on or taking off your mask
- Ensure the mask covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly under your chin, over the bridge of your nose and against the sides of your face
- Refrain from touching the front of your mask while wearing or removing it
- Do not allow the mask to hang around your neck or under your nose
- Do not reuse single-use masks, for each situation put on a new, clean mask
- Carry clean masks in a paper or zip-lock bag
- Wash and dry reusable masks after use and store in a clean, dry place
- You may use a single-use mask continuously for up to 4 hours, as long as it does not become moist, soiled or damaged. Do not store and reuse single-use masks
- If your single-use or cloth mask gets soiled or damp, replace it with a new one.
Masks are just one line of defence against COVID-19 and are not a substitute for other precautions.
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.
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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 on the Department of Health website.
You may find it helpful to discuss your COVID-19 Action Plan with your GP.
Where can I get more information?
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.
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 the following factsheets:
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
- staying at home for a long period of time
- getting help if you or someone who supports you gets COVID-19 symptoms
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:
- How to support our mob and communities
- Tips on how to keep you and your mob safe from COVID-19
- Tips for self-isolation
- Keeping our Elders safe
- Looking after your mental health and wellbeing
- When and how to access testing - Visit COVID-19 Testing Clinic Locations for up to date clinic locations.
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.