COVID safe behaviours

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.

This means that COVID-19 can spread widely and quickly. People can protect themselves from COVID-19 by getting vaccinated if they are eligible.

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 Signs 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 platforms when possible.

Keep your home clean

Good general hygiene is the best way to stop the spread of all respiratory illnesses, including coronavirus.

Everybody in the household should use the following hygiene steps.

Maintain good hand hygiene. This means:

  • If your hands are dirty, clean them using liquid soap and water.
  • Use liquid soap and water for at least 20 to 30 seconds, dry your hands on paper towel if available and dispose into a bin.
  • Do not share hand towels.
  • if hands are not visibly dirty, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol (60% to 80%). Rub all surfaces of hands for one minute. Pay close attention to and rub the backs of your hands, fingernails, fingertips and the webbing between fingers. Further information is available here.
  • Clean your hands before touching food, eating, entering rooms or other peoples’ possessions.
  • Wash hands after using the toilet.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.

Avoid close contact with others.

Cough and sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue. Throw the tissue immediately after used into a lined bin, and then wash hands.

Do not share towels and bedding.

Do not share cutlery, dishes, utensils or drinking glasses. Clean these items after use with detergent and hot water or in the dishwasher using a hot cycle.

Open a window or use air conditioning for good airflow in shared spaces if the weather allows.

General tips

Never reuse or wash disposable single-use gloves.

Follow instructions and read safety information on cleaning products.

PPE supplies

Your household will need surgical masks and disposable single use gloves.

You should also have a surgical gown and goggles available if you need to receive direct care. ACT Health can provide you with more advice on this.

Cleaning supplies

You will need a combined detergent/disinfectant or a detergent product and household grade bleach. You can find a list of cleaning products active against COVID-19 here.

You will need some disposable cleaning cloths or paper towels .

Cleaning you room

Have your own cleaning supplies to clean your room and bathroom, if you are separate from others in your household, .

Regularly clean high-touch surfaces with detergent and water followed by a disinfectant or diluted bleach solution. Or use a combination detergent/disinfectant product.

Always clean and dry surfaces before applying bleach or disinfectant.

High-touch surfaces include:

  • tabletops
  • door handles
  • doorknobs
  • bathroom fixtures
  • toilets
  • light switches
  • phones
  • remote controls
  • keyboards
  • tablets
  • bedside tables.

Use disposable kitchen towel to clean surfaces that may have blood, body fluids, secretions or excretions on them. Follow with a diluted bleach solution.

You can make a bleach-based disinfectant (1000 ppm) by adding 25 millilitres of domestic bleach to 4 cups of cold water. Mix this disinfectant solution each day and dispose of what you do not use at the end of each day.

If you use bleach as a disinfectant, apply to surface, leave for 10 minutes and then rinse with clean water. Do not use the disinfectant solution in a spray bottle.

If you need someone else to clean your room while you are in quarantine or isolation, contact ACT Health for advice.

Cleaning the rest of the house

Keep the other areas of your house clean if there are other people in your household while you are in separation.

Regularly clean high-touch surfaces with detergent and water followed by a disinfectant or diluted bleach solution. Or use a combination detergent/disinfectant product.

Use disposable cloths or use one reusable cloth per area and launder after each use. See more at laundry instructions below.

Wear disposable gloves and a surgical mask when cleaning. Dispose of the gloves when finished and do hand hygiene immediately.

Laundry

If you are in quarantine or isolating, wash your laundry items in a separate load in a hot wash (greater than 65°C) with detergent.

Or wash in a cooler water temperature and add a sanitiser e.g. Napisan, to the wash water along with the detergent.

If possible, tumble dry and iron using the highest setting compatible with the fabric.

If you are separating from other people in your household, you should avoid doing laundry until you leave quarantine or isolation.

If you must do laundry while you are separating from other people in your household, you should leave your laundry outside your room in a garbage bag. The person doing your laundry should then:

  • collect the bag while wearing gloves and a mask
  • hold the bag away from their clothes
  • empty the bag straight into the washing machine
  • turn the washing machine on (following washing advice above)
  • dispose of the bag into the general waste
  • remove gloves, perform hand hygiene, remove mask and then perform hand hygiene again
  • clean any surfaces you touched while wearing gloves (e.g. the outside of the washing machine and waste bin)
  • do hand hygiene again.

Meals

If you are separating from other members of your household, you should:

  • have your meal delivered to your door
  • collect your meal after the person delivering the meal has left the area.

You can use disposable or reusable crockery and cutlery.

Dishes

If you are separating from other members of your household, you should:

  • leave your reusable crockery and cutlery outside your door for somebody in your household to collect and clean.

The household member collecting your crockery and cutlery should:

  • wear gloves and a mask
  • clean it thoroughly with detergent and hot water or in the dishwasher on a hot cycle
  • performed hand hygiene immediately after removing gloves and mask
  • clean any surfaces touched (e.g., the front of the dishwasher or the taps)
  • do hand hygiene again.

If your entire household is in quarantine you should:

  • clean crockery and cutlery thoroughly with detergent and hot water or in the dishwasher on a hot cycle.

Waste

If you are separating from other members of your household you should:

  • not leave your room to dispose of your waste
  • put any waste from your room outside your door for collection in a tied off leak-proof garbage bag.

The person collecting your waste should:

  • wear gloves and a mask
  • remove gloves immediately after disposing of waste in the general waste
  • do hand hygiene, remove their mask and do hand hygiene again
  • clean any surfaces touched while wearing gloves (e.g. the lid of the bin)
  • do hand hygiene again.

If your entire household is in quarantine you should:

  • place waste in a general waste bag in the general bin.

Face masks

Face masks are mandatory in the ACT (indoors and outdoors).

  • Must be carried at all times.
  • All individuals aged 12 years and over must wear a face mask at all times upon leaving home, including in workplaces.
  • Only children in years 7 to 12 are required to wear a face mask while at school.
  • A person is not required to wear a face mask if they have a physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability, which makes wearing a face mask detrimental to their condition.
  • A person may remove their face mask in the following situations:
    • when consuming food, drink or medicine.
    • when communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing and visibility of the mouth is essential for communication.
    • when at work and the nature of the work means that wearing a face mask creates a risk to health and safety.
    • If asked to remove a face mask to ascertain identity (eg if asked by a police officer).
    • When undertaking vigorous exercise.
    • When performing essential work in an outdoor space where no other people are present.
    • If a person is alone or only with members of the same household in an outdoor space when no other people are present.
    • When performing essential work in an indoor space, but only when:
      • in an office where no other people are present; OR
      • when sitting or standing at a workstation in an office; AND
      • 1.5 metres away from any other person.
    • As soon as a person is no longer alone or is moving, they must wear a face mask.
    • If they are in the process of getting married.
    • If alone in a vehicle or with other members of the same household only.
    • Because of an emergency.
    • If a person is seated at a table in a restaurant or café.
    Note: A face covering means a mask or other covering that fits securely around the face and covers the nose and mouth to provide the wearer with protection against infection. A scarf or bandana is not a face mask.

How to wear your mask properly

How to safely wear and put on your mask

How to safely remove your mask

High-risk activities

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

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.

For this reason, dancing is not permitted in venues at the present time.  Patrons are asked to remain seated whilst eating and drinking.

Dancing will be permitted at weddings, acknowledging that gathering numbers are small, and attendance is restricted to invited guests. Masks are required to be worn.

If  a venue is hosting a wedding, and they will be permitting 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:

  • There must be a dedicated dance area that provides adequate space for persons to maintain some form of physical distancing.
  • Masks will be required for dancing in all indoor venues
  • Encourage patrons to dance within their social/household 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.

Singing

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.  When activities are permitted to go ahead, from 29 October 2021:

  • Choirs and performers should maintain a minimum of 1.5 metres from each other and two metres way from the audience/ congregation.
  • Congregational singing should continue to be 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.

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 highest priority.

The ACT Government will provide support for the community sector and for Canberrans with a disability to access Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) where they having difficulty accessing it directly. Supplies of PPE are limited and we will prioritise requests based on:

  • advice from the ACT Chief Health Officer
  • capacity to access PPE and
  • needs.

In addition, NDIS participants may be able to access funding from their NDIS plans for PPE.  For more information please go to: NDIS COVID-19 Your Health and Safety

Disability providers and self-managed NDIS participants, where they cannot acquire the equipment they need through their usual channels, can request access to PPE from the National Medical Stockpile by contacting NDISCOVIDPPE@health.gov.au.

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

If people have exhausted all other means of supply (including their usual suppliers, buying on line etc.) they can approach CSD to request PPE stocks.

Requests for PPE can be submitted through the PPE online request form. This includes for face masks and hand sanitizer.

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;
  • use the Check In CBR 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.

  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 on the Department of Health website.

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

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: October 20 2021