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Melbourne’s physical distancing rules explained and how to go out right now

Everyday life has changed – but there are ways to go out safely and look after your fellow Melburnians

Rebecca Russo
Nicola Dowse
Written by
Rebecca Russo
Nicola Dowse

As we navigate changing restrictions, everyday life in Melbourne looks a lot different. As things reopen across Melbourne after lockdown 4.0, it's important to follow the rules and keep our numbers low. As Dan Andrews says: "Stay safe, stay open."

We’ll be keeping you up to date with current rules and restrictions, but we also want everyone to be safe. 

When you leave your home to enjoy a holiday, go to work, see your friends, exercise, get on the beers or for any other reason, please follow these important rules on physical distancing and enhanced hygiene.

RECOMMENDED: What you can and can't do in Victoria now.

Check in

You need to check yourself into every venue you visit (the pub, the cinema, the supermarket and even your workplace). Almost all have QR codes, so follow the link and register yourself when you enter a venue. Those that don't have QR codes have the old-fashioned pen and paper. Use these to provide your name and phone number in case contact tracing is needed.

Stay 1.5 metres apart

With the exception of members of your household or your exclusive partner, you must stay 1.5 metres away from other people. This applies even if they are your friends, even if you’re at work, and even if everyone you’re with is symptom-free.

Research has shown that physical contact is the primary method of transmission, so hugs, handshakes and high fives are on hiatus until further notice.


Get tested – even if you have mild symptoms

If you have even the slightest of symptoms, get tested as soon as possible. Our society has conditioned us to not make a fuss and just get on with it when we’re a bit under the weather. Those days are gone. If you have even a slight cough, a bit of a runny nose or a touch of joint pain, or even if you’re just feeling a little more tired than usual, you need to get tested immediately. You also must get tested if you've been to any of the exposure sites listed on the government's website.

In the majority of people, symptoms can be extremely mild, and even asymptomatic cases are still capable of passing the infection on. There are testing centres across the city, and results will arrive within a couple of days by text. Either way, positive or negative, you’ll know exactly what to do regarding isolating and seeking further treatment. Here’s where to get tested right now, and here’s what it feels like to get tested.

Socialise safely

Currently, outdoor gatherings are restricted to a maximum of ten people. These gatherings must be in an outdoor public location. This includes parks and beaches but does not include your front yard or back yard. 

You cannot have anyone in your home just yet.

You must maintain 1.5 metres from anyone outside your household (except your intimate partner if applicable). For more on current rules, here's a handy explainer.


Wear a mask when you can't socially distance

All Victorian residents must wear a mask indoors in all cases and when they can't socially distance outdoors. 

The example provided by the premier is one we can all understand: If you're going to Bunnings, wear a mask in the shop and in the sausage sizzle queue, but not in the carpark if no one's around.

You can wear a single-use surgical face mask or a reusable cloth mask – bandanas, scarves and face shields (by themselves) are not acceptable face coverings. Whatever you choose, make sure it is covering your mouth and nose. If the mask isn't fully covering your nose, you're defeating the purpose of wearing it. Here's where you can get a face mask in Melbourne right now

Hand sanny is your friend

Please use hand sanitiser whenever you touch a surface in public and wash your hands with soap and water once you return home. The virus can survive on certain surfaces for up to five days – including on your skin. The most effective way to disinfect your hands is to thoroughly wash them for at least 30 seconds with soap and hot water.

If you are out and about, hand san is also a very effective stopgap, and many of Melbourne’s top boutique distilleries (including Patient Wolf and Urban Alley) are producing their own using the same stills where they brew their hooch. Here's where to buy Australian-made hand san.


Don’t touch your face

Be careful not to touch your face when you’re outside your home. You might well be shocked by the amount of time our mitts spend touching our mugs. Throughout the day, we might absentmindedly scratch our chins and bite our fingernails. We might rub an eye or, if no one’s looking, give our noses a cheeky pick. This all adds up to a lot of facetime for whatever nasties might be on your hands, so avoiding that unconscious touching is extremely important.

Cough and sneeze in ya elbow

Most of us are well mannered enough to cover our mouths when we need to clear our throat, but whereas it was once a sign of good manners to shield your mouth with your hands, the crook of your elbow is now the best place to unleash a cough or sneeze. This way, you won’t only be protecting those around if you’re infected, you’ll also be protecting yourself from whatever might already be on your hands (and here’s hoping Josh Frydenberg has learnt his lesson). You should cough or sneeze into your elbow even when you are wearing a mask.


Know how to be safe on PT

Public transport is operating. If you are feeling sick, do not travel on public transport. If you are feeling fine, there are a number of things you can do to keep yourself safe while on public transport. Read about them here.

Don't look for loopholes

We know it's tempting to start breaking the rules, now that numbers are so low. But the rules exist, temporarily, to bring down case numbers and save lives. So obey them and don't start looking for loopholes to these restrictions. By adhering to these restrictions you're helping to protect all of Melbourne. We are returning to normal life, but we will only get to stay open if we stay safe.

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