How to protect yourself and others — coronavirus (COVID-19)

Everybody is at risk of getting COVID-19. For most people, they will only develop mild illness and recover easily, but others may develop severe sickness.

To protect yourself, your family and the community from getting COVID-19 you must maintain good hygiene and practice social distancing (also called physical distancing).


  • Stay home if you are sick
  • If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, get tested
  • Stay 1.5 metres away from other people—think two big steps
  • Wash your hands often, using soap and water or hand sanitiser
  • Sneeze or cough into your arm or a tissue. Then put the tissue in the bin
  • Wear a face mask when you are not able to keep 1.5 metres away from other people or whenever mandatory face masks are required
  • Get vaccinated

Do not

  • Go near people if you are coughing or sneezing
  • Touch your mouth, nose and eyes
  • Shake hands
  • Hug or kiss people.

Restrictions on meeting up with other people, in homes and in public places like restaurants and parks, are changing often. To find out what current restrictions in Queensland are, visit Restrictions in Queensland.

Advice for people most at risk of getting serious illness from COVID-19

Some people are more likely to get really sick with COVID-19. People need to take extra steps to protect themselves and those most at risk.

Those at greatest risk are:

Social (physical) distancing

Social distancing (also called physical distancing) is one way to help slow the spread of viruses and can help protect the people in our community who are most at risk of getting really sick from COVID-19.

Why social distancing matters. Social distancing of 1.5 metres decreases the exposure of coronavirus (COVID-19). With no distancing 1 person infects 2.5 people every 5 days, leading to 406 people infected in 30 days. With 50% less exposure 1 person infects 1.25 people in 5 days leading to 15 people infected in 30 days. With 75% less exposure 1 person infects 0.625 people in 5 days, leading to 2.5 people infected in 30 days.

Practical tips

Face masks

Face masks can be a useful measure to help control sustained community transmission.

You don’t need to wear a face mask unless your doctor has told you to or you are caring for someone who might have COVID-19, or whenever mandatory face masks are required. However, those in who are not able to social (physical) distance throughout their day, should also consider wearing a mask.

The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is stay home if you are sick and wash your hands often.

  • If you have been told to wear a face mask, avoid touching it while you’re wearing it. If you do, wash your hands.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks. Immediately replace the mask if you have coughed or sneezed into it.
  • When disposing of a mask, put it in a sealable bag to ensure the used mask won’t be touched by others. Then put the sealed bag in the bin.
  • Always clean your hands immediately after removing your mask and putting it in the bin.

Read more advice about face masks.


You don’t need to wear gloves to protect yourself from getting COVID-19. In fact, wearing gloves could help the spread of the virus to yourself or others.

This is because germs you pick up on gloves can transfer to other surfaces. You might also touch your face while wearing the gloves which can transfer any germs on the gloves to you and make you sick.

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to regularly clean your hands and practice social distancing.

For more information on using face masks in the community visit the Australian Government website.

We know that germs can survive outside of the body, on surfaces, after a person coughs or sneezes. Lots of cleaning is important for reducing the spread of germs and reducing the number of germs surviving on surfaces.

Reducing the number of germs in the environment can break the chain of infection.

Follow these steps for effective cleaning:

  • Start the cleaning process in the cleanest areas and finish in the dirtier areas.
  • Wear single-use or reusable gloves. Wash reusable gloves with running water and detergent and hang outside to dry.
  • Wash your hands after you have finished cleaning and removed gloves.
  • Clean all frequently touched surfaces at least weekly so that surfaces are visibly clean.
  • Clean at least daily if anyone in the household is sick. This includes items such as kitchen benches, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables.

Cleaning process

  • Remove germs from surfaces by rubbing the surface with detergent and water. Using a detergent will help to loosen the germs so they can be rinsed away with clean water.
    • You can also use a disinfectant product or bleach. Vinegar and other natural products are not recommended.
  • Rinse and dry the surface. Allowing the surface to dry will make it harder for germs to survive and grow.
  • Use a clean cloth each time (that you can throw in the bin or wash after use).

Cleaning equipment

  • Good cleaning equipment includes mops with detachable heads, disposable cloths or cloths that can be washed, and vacuum cleaners fitted with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters to reduce dust.
  • Equipment should be well maintained, cleaned and stored.
  • Use different cloths for different areas, e.g. kitchen, bathroom, toilet.


  • You only need to use disinfectants if a surface has been contaminated with potentially infectious material.
  • Most germs do not survive for long on clean surfaces when exposed to air and light.
  • Regular cleaning with detergent and water should be enough to reduce germs.
  • Disinfectant must be used correctly, following the manufacturer’s instructions to effectively kill germs.
  • A surface must be cleaned first for a disinfectant to kill germs.

Keep anyone who is sick in the home separate from everyone else.

  • Provide a separate bathroom and bedroom for them, if possible.
  • If possible, only have one person taking care of the sick person. This person should not be high risk and should minimise contact with other members of the household.
  • If possible, maintain physical distancing of 1.5m (two big steps) between the sick person and other members of the household.
  • If you need to share a bedroom with someone who is sick, try to ensure there is good air flow as much as possible. Open windows and turn on the fan. Maintain physical distancing by spacing out beds, if possible. Sleep head to toe if required to share a bed. Place a divider if possible, to reduce contact such as a sheet, pillows, towels or blanket.
  • If you share a bathroom with someone who is sick, they should disinfect the surfaces that they touch after each use, such as door handles, sinks and taps. Open doors and windows to get good air flow in the bathroom.
  • If you are sick, do not help prepare food and try to eat separately from the other members of the household. If you live in a large family or shared house, serve meals in shifts and clean surfaces between each one. Do not share plates, cutlery, glasses or bottles. Serve meals individually – not on shared platters.
  • If you live in more than one home, you should stay away from any homes that have older or vulnerable people in them.
  • Limit your movements as much as possible.
  • Try not to touch other people if you are moving from one house to another.
  • Don’t travel between houses if you feel sick.

If your child is sick, they must not go to school or childcare. If they have COVID-19 symptoms, get tested.

  • Do not linger at the school when dropping off or picking up children. Contact your school if you are unsure about any changes to drop off and pick up routines.
  • Talk to your children about the importance of good hygiene including:
    • regular hand washing, using soap and water and washing for at least 20 seconds
    • covering coughs and sneezes with a flexed elbow or a tissue
    • throwing away used tissues and cleaning hands afterwards
    • not sharing food or water bottles.
  • Use our lunchbox messages as a fun way to help remind your child of good hygiene.
  • Provide a small bottle of hand sanitiser for your child to keep in their bag. Show them how and when to use it safely.
  • Talk with your children about any changes to regular routines they may notice at school. Changes may be stressful or unsettling and children may be worried.

For more tips and information see Parents and children.

You can return to work. Talk to your employer about their return to work plan. Remember:

  • if you are sick, don’t go to work. If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, you should get tested immediately.
  • social distancing and hygiene rules remain in place in all circumstances. This includes regular hand washing and keeping 1.5 metres away from non-household members.

If you are returning to work, here are some tips for social distancing in the workplace:

  • stop shaking hands to greet other
  • consider cancelling non-essential meetings. Try meetings via video conferencing or phone call and put off large meetings to a later date
  • hold essential meetings in the open air if possible
  • have the maximum number of people in each meeting room that aligns with current restrictions on businesses
  • provide alcohol-based hand rub, tissues and cleaning products/disinfectant wipes in common areas and at each workstation if possible
  • encourage effective hand washing—see our resources for printable posters
  • eat lunch at your desk or outside rather than in the lunch room
  • open windows or adjust air conditioning for more ventilation
  • limit food handling and sharing of food in the workplace
  • regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that many people touch
  • avoid 'hotdesking'. If permanent workstations are not available clean all desk surfaces especially keyboard, mouse and phone at the beginning and end of every shift
  • consider flexible working arrangements like working from home, rotating office rostering or staggering start and finish times
  • If you're sick, even with mild symptoms, stay home. Work from home if you can.

Information for employers and jobseekers is available on the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.

  • Take a list with you so you can shop quickly. Follow this Healthier. Happier. guide for creating and following a meal plan.
  • See if you can plan your shopping list so you don't need to visit the shops as often. Try including more long-life foods or recipes for when you're short on fresh ingredients.
  • Visit the shops at quieter times like weekdays in the mid-morning or afternoon so you come in contact with fewer people.
  • Wipe down trolleys with disinfectant wipes if you can. Ensure you have washed your hands or used hand sanitiser before you enter.
  • Clean your hands after touching shared surfaces like EFTPOS machines.
  • Rinse fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) with water. You don’t need to use soap for this, which might be dangerous if it has ingredients that shouldn’t be eaten.
  • Get your groceries delivered. You could shop with online supermarkets or search for local businesses doing home delivery. Ask for groceries to be left outside your house so you can keep your distance from the delivery person.

You should keep seeing your doctor for advice and to manage any chronic health conditions.

If you are feeling unwell, call ahead before you visit the doctor so they can prepare for your visit.

  • Call ahead to check if your appointment is on time. Wait outside/in your car if you are early or the doctor is running late.
  • Ask your doctor about Telehealth services to help reduce community spread of COVID-19.
  • Hospitals and GP clinics may have new rules in place for waiting areas, including removing magazines and toys so bring a book or magazine from home.
  • Clean your hands after touching shared surfaces like EFTPOS machines.
  • Order and pick up all your medication at the same time. If you need to wait at the pharmacy, make sure you keep physical distance.

Exercise and recreation are really good but there are some restrictions in place—check the latest advice for Queensland.

Here are some easy exercise activities you can do while maintaining social distancing:

  • a fast-paced walk around your local area
  • jump on your bike and cycle at a moderate speed
  • an at home aerobic, body weight circuit
  • download a yoga app or follow an online video
  • find exercise videos to suit your interests
  • swim laps at a local pool.

For tips about keeping the whole family active including home workouts visit Healthier. Happier. Healthy at home.

Tips for players and coaches:

  • Wash hands properly and regularly.
  • Participants should bring their own towel and drink bottle.
  • Don’t share drink bottles.
  • Don’t shake hands or give high fives.
  • Be creative in celebrating a goal to limit close contact. Swap your high five celebrations for elbow bumps or an air high five!
  • Coaches should keep a spray bottle of disinfectant handy to regularly clean and/or wipe down shared equipment.
  • Keep separate areas for used and sanitised equipment.
  • Stay home if you’re unwell.
  • Avoid mingling between groups.

Tips for spectators:

  • Wash hands properly and regularly.
  • Keep 1.5 metres from other spectators.
  • Take a hygiene pack with you that includes hand sanitiser and tissues.
  • Use designated spectator seating and/or waiting areas.
  • Use separate entry and exit points.
  • Register your attendance on activity sign on sheet.
  • Stay home if you’re unwell.

Read more at: Queensland Return to Play—our plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions for sport, recreation and fitness activities.

  • Try to plan ahead to avoid peak hours
  • Keep distance between yourself and other passengers by:
    • standing away from others while at a stop or platform
    • leaving space between you and the person in front as you enter the vehicle
    • sitting away from other people
    • waiting for a later service
    • always following staff advice.
  • Use contactless payment methods like go cards.
  • Minimise contact with surfaces like handles and doors.
  • Carry hand sanitiser to clean your hands before and after using public transport.
  • Consider wearing a face mask in situations where you are unable to maintain social (physical) distance.
  • If you are unwell please stay home and contact your doctor for advice.

Read more about COVID Safe travel from Translink

  • Check current restrictions for essential and recreational vehicle use.
  • Take care when stopping for petrol or other essentials. 
    • Keep a bottle of hand sanitiser handy and use it every time you get in and before touching other surfaces in your car.
    • If available, use disinfecting wipes on handles and buttons before you touch them.
    • Clean your hands after touching shared surfaces like EFTPOS machines.
    • Bring essentials from home and plan your trip to reduce the number of stops you need to make.
  • Use online services wherever possible to renew your licence and registration. Visit COVID-19 transport and motoring customer service updates for more information.
  • As much as possible maintain social distancing while using taxis and ride share services:
    • Sit in the back seat
    • Handle your own luggage
    • Clean your hands after touching shared surfaces like EFTPOS machines.
  • For the safety of other passengers take all rubbish with you, or ask the driver if they have a bin.
  • Avoid using taxi or ride sharing services if you are unwell. If you must use a taxi or ride sharing service to seek medical assistance, use a face mask if you have one. Let the driver know you are unwell so they can take additional precautions.