Information on the four square metre rule to prevent infection in the workplace.

Key points

  • The four square metre rule now applies to many venues and facilities that are accessible to the public. You can find information on how to calculate how many people can be in your spaces on this page.

From 11:59pm 16 September, a new two square metre rule applies to food and drink venues operating outdoors such as restaurants, cafes and bars. For information and advice

On this page

What is the ‘four square metre’ rule?

To limit the number of people who may gather in a premise at one time, some businesses must allow entry to no more than one patron per four square metres of available floor space in their premises.

Four square metre rule with one person with two metres of clear space either side

For example, if a space is 8 metres long and 2 metres wide, its total area is 16 square metres. Its density quotient is 4, so no more than 4 patrons would be permitted to be in the indoor space at the same time. The density quotient must be rounded down, for example a density quotient of 9.68 becomes 9 patrons.

Four square metre rule with four people side by side and 1.5 metres between them

The spaces specifically available for staff only (for example, behind bars or counters) are not included when calculating the density quotient for customers.

Four square metre rules showing 1.5 metres between people in a 10 x 6 metre area

In the directions the ‘four square metre’ rule is called the ‘density quotient’.

Closed areas within venues (for example, gaming areas) cannot be included when calculating the number of members of the public permitted under the four square metre rule.

Temporary structures should not be installed to create separate indoor spaces.

What happens if the ‘four square metre' rule means my venue can have fewer than 20 patrons?

For smaller venues, the four square metre rule may restrict how many people can enter to fewer than 20. 

The four square metre rule, also known as the density quotient, has been a key part of National Cabinet’s agreed approach and of the Chief Health Officer’s advice to government. 

As restrictions are eased, the density quotient acts as a safeguard to ensure that we don’t have too many people in close proximity. 
 
The Australian Health Protection Principle Committee will review the density quotient over the coming weeks and the outcome of this will determine if there is a review of the density quotient in Victoria.

Does it apply to everyone in the space i.e. staff and customers?

The four square metre rule applies to limit the number of customers/visitors in a space, but not the number of workers. Venues and facilities can have the number of staff reasonably required to operate, in addition to any patrons permitted entry in accordance with the four square metre rule.

What venues does the ‘four square metre’ rule apply to?

The four square metre rule applies to most venues and facilities with indoor and outdoor spaces that are accessible to the public including shopping centres, indoor and outdoor markets. The ‘four square metre’ rule doesn’t apply to other workplaces that don't have public access. All workplaces are encouraged to apply the four square metre rule wherever possible and encourage staff to remain 1.5 metres apart.

Does the ‘four-square metre’ rule apply to lifts?

  • Physical distancing, hand hygiene and cough etiquette are strongly encouraged when using lifts to reduce public health risks associated with coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Four-square metre density quotients are currently not mandatory in lifts, but responsible use of lifts is encouraged.
  • It’s important to avoid taking a crowded lift and wait for the next service where possible.
  • Appropriate cleaning of high touch surfaces such as lift buttons and handrails should occur regularly and operators may consider providing hand sanitiser and cleaning wipes to aid users and staff in this process.
  • 1.5 metre physical distancing should be adhered to while waiting for a lift and during use, where practical. Floor markings at lift entrances may prompt users to maintain physical distancing while waiting for the lift and should promote unidirectional flow to avoid bottle necks occurring near lift entrance points.
  • Building operators may choose to include signage at lift entrances recommending a sensible maximum number of people that should enter a lift in order to avoid overcrowding. This may vary depending on the size of the lift and time of day.
  • Staggering the use of lifts during busy periods may be necessary to ensure physical distancing can occur.
  • In some circumstances the use of stairwells may be an alternative when lifts are busy and where safe to do so.
  • You should avoid accessing lifts with others if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). Instead, get tested and stay home.

What is the ‘two square metre rule’? 

To limit the number of people who may gather in a premise at one time, some regional hospitality businesses operating outdoors must allow entry to no more than one patron per two square metres of available floor space in their premises.

Illustration of the 2 square metre rule (2x1 metre)

For example, if a space is 8 metres long and 1 metres wide, its total area is 8 square metres. Its density quotient is 4, so no more than 4 patrons would be permitted to be in the indoor space at the same time. The density quotient must be rounded down, for example a density quotient of 9.68 becomes 9 patrons.

The spaces specifically available for staff only (for example, behind bars or counters) are not included when calculating the density quotient for customers.

Illustration of the 2 square metre rule (8x1 metre)

 

Illustration of the 2 square metre rule (4x2 metre)

What venues does the ‘two square metre rule’ apply to?

The ‘two square metre rule’ applies to the outside spaces of food and drink businesses in regional Victoria from 11:59pm on 16 September. This includes restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars and nightclubs.

Does the two square metre rule apply to indoor and outdoor spaces?

The two square metre rule only applies to regional hospitality businesses operating outdoor spaces. For more information about the restrictions that apply to your business or industry visit, Business Victoria.

What happens if the ‘square metre' rule means my venue can have fewer than the maximum number patrons?

For smaller venues, the square metre rule may restrict how many people can enter to less than the maximum number allowed.  You must apply the smaller limit to the number of patrons.

The four square metre rule, also known as the density quotient, has been a key part of National Cabinet’s agreed approach and of the Chief Health Officer’s advice to government.

As restrictions are eased, the density quotient acts as a safeguard to ensure that we don’t have too many people in close proximity.

Does it apply to everyone in the space i.e. staff and customers?

The four square metre rule applies to limit the number of customers/visitors in a space, but not the number of workers. Venues and facilities can have the number of staff reasonably required to operate, in addition to any patrons permitted entry in accordance with the four square metre rule.

What venues does the ‘four square metre’ rule apply to?

The ‘four square metre rule applies to most venues and facilities with indoor and outdoor spaces that are accessible to the public including shopping centres, indoor and outdoor markets. The ‘four square metre’ rule doesn’t apply to other workplaces that don't have public access. All workplaces are encouraged to apply the four square metre rule wherever possible and encourage staff to remain 1.5 metres apart.

Do the four square metre apply to indoor and outdoor spaces?

Yes, the four square metre rule applies to indoor and outdoor spaces. For more information about the restrictions that apply to your business or industry visit, Business Victoria.

Does the ‘four-square metre’ rule apply to lifts?

  • Physical distancing, hand hygiene and cough etiquette are strongly encouraged when using lifts to reduce public health risks associated with coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Four-square metre density quotients are currently not mandatory in lifts, but responsible use of lifts is encouraged.
  • It’s important to avoid taking a crowded lift and wait for the next lift where possible.
  • Appropriate cleaning of high touch surfaces such as lift buttons and handrails should occur regularly and operators may consider providing hand sanitiser and cleaning wipes   for users and staff.
  • Keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others while waiting for a lift and during use, where practical. Floor markings at lift entrances helps users maintain physical distancing while waiting for the lift and avoids bottle necks occurring near lift entrances.
  • Building operators may choose to include signage at lift entrances recommending a sensible maximum number of people that should enter a lift in order to avoid overcrowding. This may vary depending on the size of the lift and time of day.
  • Staggering the use of lifts during busy periods may be necessary to ensure physical distancing can occur.
  • In some circumstances, the use of stairwells may be an alternative when lifts are busy and where safe to do so.
  • You should avoid accessing lifts with others if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). Instead, get tested and stay home.