Information and advice on how businesses can reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in the workplace.

Key points

  • There are practical actions you can implement now to keep your staff and customers safe by implementing hygiene and physical distancing measures
  • A four square metre rule now applies to many venues and facilities with indoor spaces that are accessible to the public. You can find out how to calculate how many people can be in your spaces on this page. 
  • Information on how best to clean and disinfect to reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) helps slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) within the work environment. Guidance is provided on how to procure and how to use it.
  • Industry bodies, government and specific workplaces may seek further consultation via the Victorian Occupational and Environmental Physician COVID-19 Expert Panel (Word).

For information and advice

On this page

For advice, updates and support to help your workplace plan and respond to coronavirus visit the Business Victoria coronavirus support website.

Businesses across the state can now access information on dealing with coronavirus (COVID-19) by calling the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15.

Visit Worksafe Victoria for information on preventing coronavirus (COVID-19) in the workplace.

Your questions answered

What are some of the things I can do right now?

Organisations and employers who are responsible for a workplace should take these actions now to help reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19):

  • If your staff can work from home, they must work from home.
  • If your staff can’t work from home, you should encourage flexible working arrangements, including off-peak travel.
  • If your employees are unwell, they should stay home.
  • Consider if work-related travel by your staff within Victoria is necessary and delay where possible.
  • Plan for increased levels of staff absences.
  • Plan for what to do if staff arrive unwell at work (e.g. identify an isolation room or separated area).
  • Display education materials, these can be downloaded and printed from our coronavirus (COVID-19) section.
  • Consult with Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) and keep staff informed of the actions you are taking.

Hygiene

  • Provide and promote hand sanitisers for use on entering buildings.
  • Increase environmental cleaning. 
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly, including desks, keyboards and lifts including lift buttons and handrails.
  • In a change room, provide adequate supplies so staff do not share items like towels and soap bars, and encourage staff to wash their hands after changing.
  • Open windows, enhance airflow, adjust air conditioning. Ensure the highest hygiene practices among food handlers and canteen staff.
  • Purchase supplies to help limit infection, for example alcohol sanitisers and soap.

Physical distancing

  • Plan ways to enable physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres to reduce person-to-person contact for staff and clients. 
  • In an enclosed workspace there should be on average no more than one person per four square metres of floor space. 
  • Provide a clearly visible sign for customers and staff stating how many people are allowed in your premise. For information on signage and signage templates see the Business Victoria website.
  • Avoid large indoor meetings and lunchrooms. Consider using outdoor venues instead.  

What is the ‘four square metre’ rule?

As a way to limit the number of people who may gather in a premise at one time, retail operators must allow entry to no more than one patron per four square metres of available floor space in their shop.

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

For example, if an indoor 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 should 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 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.

Cleaning and disinfecting for business and constructions sites

Cleaning and disinfecting to reduce coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission - tips for business and construction sites (Word) – advice on cleaning and disinfecting to reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission in building and construction sites. This advice applies to all non-healthcare settings in Victoria. 

Cleaning and disinfecting for non-healthcare settings

Cleaning and disinfection to reduce coronavirus (COVD-19) transmission tips for non-healthcare settings (Word) - advice on cleaning and disinfecting to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in all non-healthcare settings in Victoria. 

Cleaning and disinfecting for local councils

Cleaning and disinfecting to reduce coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission - tips for local councils (Word) – advice on cleaning and disinfecting to reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission for local councils. This advice applies to all non-healthcare settings in Victoria. 

Personal protective equipment (PPE) guidance

The Procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) for workplaces in the coronavirus (COVID-19) environment frequently asked questions (Word) provides guidance on best practice to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) within the work environment for services outside of the health and aged care systems, including the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (also known as PPE). 

The Appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for coronavirus (COVID-19) in the work environment frequently asked questions (Word) provides guidance on best practice for slowing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) within the work environment for services outside of the health system (health and aged care services), including the process for procuring personal protective equipment (also known as PPE) where it is required. This document should be read in conjunction with the advice on the appropriate use of personal protective equipment.

Resources

Posters

The following resources can be printed and displayed: