Information and resources on coronavirus (COVID-19) for older people, their family, friends and carers.

For the latest information and advice on restrictions visit Victoria's restriction levels.

You can also call the Victorian 24-hour coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398 (free call) for advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) or information about restrictions. Press 0 when you call if you need an interpreter.

If you’re feeling less connected to family and friends as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19), you can call the Victorian 24-hour coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398 to talk to  a volunteer from the Australian Red Cross who can link you in with local supports.

Key points

To help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), all Victorians should:

  • regularly wash or sanitise their hands
  • keep at least 1.5 metres from those you don’t live with
  • stay home if you feel unwell
  • get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) and self-isolate while you wait for the results even if you have mild symptoms including a fever, chills, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, loss of sense of smell or taste.
  • if you live within metropolitan Melbourne or Regional Victoria, you must wear a face covering whenever you leave your home, unless a lawful exception applies
On this page

Staying safe

For the latest information and advice on restrictions across Victoria, visit Victoria's restriction levels

Across Victoria, you must wear a face covering when leaving home if it is not possible to keep 1.5 metres away from others or a lawful exception applies. Read more about face coverings.

Get your flu shot. Vaccines are now available from your GP and pharmacy. Call ahead to check their availability and to make an appointment. The influenza vaccine is free for people aged 65 years and over.

If you have any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, you should, get tested and stay at home until you receive the results. The test is free for everyone.

Keeping well

To support your health and wellbeing being, older Victorians are encouraged to continue to:

  • monitor existing health conditions and seek healthcare if required
  • keep important scheduled medical appointments
  • take medications that your doctor has prescribed
  • take care of your mental health
  • keep active
  • stay connected with family and friends using technology
  • seek help if you are feeling anxious, uncertain or unsafe.

For more information go to Seniors online.

You can also find more mental health tips and resources on this site.

It is important that people who are more likely to become very sick with coronavirus (COVID-19) take steps to protect themselves and follow advice from healthcare professionals. Find out more about coronavirus.

It is recommended that all Victorians wear a face covering when outside the home if it is difficult to keep 1.5 metres apart from other people. If you live within metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire, you must wear a face covering whenever you leave your home, unless an exception applies. Read more about face coverings.

Staying connected

There are things you can do to stay safe and connected while following the latest health advice.

Older Victorians are encouraged to:

  • practise good hygiene – regularly wash your hands and do not hug or shake hands
  • continue to use video calls to keep in touch with friends and family
  • talk with your family, carers and friends about how to support you
  • consider having groceries, medicines or essential supplies delivered to you
  • think about how you can spend time outdoors. Exercise is one of the four reasons you are allowed to leave your home if you live in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire.
  • if you live outside metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire, ask your family and friends to visit only if necessary and not to visit if they are unwell.

Most Victorian councils are providing local support to residents, including older people. Contact your local council to find out more.

You can also enjoy music and entertainment in the comfort of your home as part of Victorian Seniors Festival reimagined.

Or check out the Victoria Together website for more to enjoy.

Getting support at home

There is a range of support to help older Victorians during this time.

The support available includes:

  • Emergency relief packages
  • Getting groceries delivered
  • Home support services

To find out more go to Seniors online.

Support for carers

Many older people care for others. There are services to help give carers a break.

The Victorian Support for Carers Program provides support for all carers, including respite.

To find out more about respite in your area or to find your local Support for Carers program provider phone Carers Victoria Advisory Line on 1800 514 845.

Frequently asked questions

Victoria's restrictions

Do I need to remain at home?

The reasons you can leave home right now are different depending on where in Victoria you live. 

If you live in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire, there are only four reasons you can leave home: 

  1. Shopping for food or other essential items
  2. To provide care giving, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment
  3. For exercise (outdoor exercise only, with only one other person or members of your household)
  4. Work or study, if you cannot work or study from home

For those living outside these areas, use common sense when it comes to visiting friends and family. That means seeing only those you need to – if you need to.

For the latest advice on current restriction levels visit Victoria's restriction levels.

If you need to go out, remember to:

  • keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres from those you don’t live with
  • take hand sanitiser with you
  • practice good hygiene by washing your hands and cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.

If you are feeling unwell, stay home and get tested.

It is recommended that all adults wear a mask when leaving home if it is not possible to keep 1.5 metres away from others.

Wearing a face mask can provide an additional physical barrier and helps to reduce community transmission. Read more about face masks.

Visiting family and friends

Can I have visitors?

As part of Stay at Home restrictions, Victorians living in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire cannot have visitors at their home, unless it is for care or an essential service.

Victorians living outside these areas – especially those who are more vulnerable - are asked to use commonsense when it comes to having friends and family visit. That means seeing only those you need to. You can have up to five visitors at home. You should maintain 1.5 metres from people you don’t live with.

It is important to continue to practice good hygiene by washing your hands and cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.

Do not shake hands, hug or kiss as a greeting, and ask visitors to wash their hands when they first arrive, and often throughout their stay. 

If you are outside the restricted areas, ask your family and visitors to exercise commonsense if they visit you, and not visit if they are unwell.

You can use video conferencing, phone calls, text message or social media to stay in touch, and still provide care and support as needed.

When I visit family and friends can I hug them?

You should maintain 1.5 metres from people you don’t live with.

It is recommended that you don’t hug, shake hands, or kiss as a greeting, and ask visitors to wash their hands when they first arrive, and often throughout their stay.

People at risk of becoming sick with coronavirus

How do I know if I am at risk of becoming very sick with coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Although some people will only have mild symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), anybody can become very sick with coronavirus (COVID-19).

Due to their lower immune systems, people over the age of 70 are more likely to get very sick with coronavirus (COVID-19), along with people with chronic medical conditions or compromised immune systems and others.

However, older people are a diverse group with varying experiences of health and wellbeing. You should consider your own health needs and situation when thinking about how to stay safe and talk to your GP if you’re unsure.

See more information on who is most at risk of being very sick from coronavirus (COVID-19).

Do I need to wear a mask when I’m in public?

It is recommended that you wear a face mask (cloth mask or surgical mask) if you leave your home and if it is difficult to keep 1.5 metres apart from other people. This could be in places like the shops, public transport or a medical waiting room.

It is important to wear a mask correctly. Make sure your mask fits snuggly and covers your nose and fits under your chin, and make sure it is secured with ties or elastic over your ears. While wearing a mask, you should also continue good habits and practices to stay safe, like washing your hands regularly.

Read more about face masks.

What can I do to protect myself if I am at greater risk of becoming sick?

It is important that people who are more likely to become very sick with coronavirus (COVID-19) take steps to protect themselves.

If you have a chronic medical condition or compromised immune system, it is important that you continue to look after yourself and take your regular medications. Keep following advice and ask help from your doctor, nurse or healthcare worker.

See more information on who is most at risk of being very sick from coronavirus (COVID-19).

Medical care

Can I go to medical appointments?

It’s important to keep monitoring existing health conditions, and getting new symptoms checked and diagnosed quickly.

If you need medical care, you can book an appointment with your GP, mental health practitioners or family and carers network. You can do this in person, over the phone or by video conference.

Doctors, nurses and mental health professionals can deliver bulk-billed services via phone or video conferencing until 30 September 2020.

You can also call Nurse-on-call on 1300 606 024 to speak with a registered nurse for caring, professional health advice 24 hours a day.

Support for carers and family members

I am a carer. What happens if I need to self-isolate?

If you need to self-isolate and feel that it is not safe for the person you are caring for to stay home with you, you may want to explore the option of temporary residential respite for them.

The Victorian Support for Carers program provides flexible respite and support services for unpaid carers of people with care needs. To find your local provider, phone the Carers Victoria Advisory line on 1800 514 845 or go to www.carersvictoria.org.au/carer-benefits/support-for-carers-program

There may be community-based support that could be of assistance.

A My Aged Care Assessment will identify if there is available support that you can access if you’re unable to provide care. Call My Aged Care contact centre on 1800 200 422 or go to myagedcare.gov.au

As a carer, you can also access information and support via the Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737 or via the website: carergateway.gov.au

Is it safe to visit my family member in aged care?

You can visit family or friends in hospitals and residential aged care, but if you are feeling unwell, you must not visit. Visits are limited to two people each day and for no longer than two hours.

Some aged care facilities that are experiencing outbreaks of coronavirus (COVID-19) may be further restricting visits to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Consider contacting the facility before visiting to check if there are any additional restrictions.

To find out more see Aged care sector - coronavirus.

Social support

Are there any local supports available for seniors?

Yes, most Victorian councils are providing local support to residents, including people over the age of 70. Visit the Seniors online social support hub to contact your local council to find out more: www.seniorsonline.vic.gov.au/services-information/social-support-hub

What can I do if I feel lonely and worried?

There are many ways to be supported if you are feeling anxious or uncertain.

If you’re feeling less connected to friends and family as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19), you can call the hotline 1800 675 398 to connect with a volunteer from the Australian Red Cross who can link you in with local supports.

You can also contact the Older Persons COVID-19 support line on 1800 171 866 (free call) Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 6pm.

Beyond Blue offers practical advice and resources at beyondblue.org.au. The Beyond Blue Support Service offers short term counselling and referrals by phone on 1300 224 636.

Lifeline offers tips, resources and advice, as well as crisis and suicide support. Call 13 11 14 (24 hours/7 days). Text 0477 13 11 14 (6pm to midnight AEDT, 7 nights).

If you are experiencing severe emotional distress or mental health issues, speak with your GP or mental health practitioner.

Can I get emergency supplies if I need to self-isolate?

Yes. If you need to self-isolate or quarantine and do not have enough food to feed yourself or your family, you may be eligible to receive an emergency relief package.

These packages contain basic supplies and are for people who do not have access to a support network or alternate means of obtaining food such as online delivery.

To request a package call the coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398 (free call).

Contact phone numbers

Victoria's 24-hour coronavirus hotline 1800 675 398 (free call).

Nurse-on-call on 1300 606 024 to speak with a registered nurse for caring, professional health advice 24 hours a day.

Aged care

Call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 (free call) to access emergency aged care services.

Mental health

Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Services on 1800 512 348 (free call) for more information about managing stress and support options.

Australian Government free mental health support line for senior Australians, their families and carers throughout coronavirus (COVID-19). Call 1800 171 866 (free call) Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 6pm.

Beyond Blue offers practical advice and resources at beyondblue.org.au. The Beyond Blue Support Service offers short term counselling and referrals by phone on 1300 224 636.

Lifeline offers tips, resources and advice, as well as crisis and suicide support. Call 13 11 14 (24 hours/7 days). Text 0477 13 11 14 (6pm to midnight AEDT, 7 nights).

Food and groceries

Carers

The Victorian Support for Carers Program provides support for all carers, including respite. If you need a break or some assistance, call Carers Victoria Advisory Line on 1800 514 845 (free call).

Keeping connected

For Seniors Card or Seniors Festival inquiries call 1300 797 210.

Australian Government’s Be Connected program has free courses on everything from how to access the internet to making video calls or setting up your device. Call the Be Connected helpline on 1300 795 897.

Advice and support

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) provides free support to older people to address issues related to Commonwealth funded aged care services. Call OPAN on 1800 237 981 (free call), 6am to 10pm, 7 days a week to discuss any coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns.

Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria provides free support and information to all Victorians aged 50+. For more information call 1300 135 090.

Safety

Safe Steps offers support for people and families needing help, support and advice to stay safe – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – call 1800 015 188  (free call).

Seniors Rights Victoria provides free advice and legal assistance – call 1300 368 821.

Men’s Referral Service provides support, information and counselling to men – call 1300 766 491.

More information

Older persons COVID-19 support line

You can contact the Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line (1800 171 866) if you would like to talk to someone about the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. You can ask for help or advice about services, help with daily activities, or if you are feeling lonely or worried.

Community Visitors Scheme

There is also a Community Visitors Scheme for older people who receive government-subsidised residential aged care or Home Care Packages.