Gatherings, density and physical distancing

Why do we have maximum gathering numbers?

Advice from Public Health Services is that a staged easing of restrictions should occur to monitor the transmission risk of COVID-19. This includes a gradual increase in gathering numbers. Read about the current restrictions on gatherings and “Gatherings Direction”.

It is difficult to maintain physical distancing and effective hygiene measures in large public gatherings.

Restricting gathering numbers reduces the likelihood of transmission and provides opportunities for the community to continue effective hygiene practices.

What is a gathering?

A gathering is the total number of people present in any single undivided space. All individuals – whether they are adults, children or babies – are considered part of the gathering number. At some businesses and formal gatherings, if provided for in the Gatherings Direction, staff and official attendees are exempt from the total gathering number.

What is the difference between indoor and outdoor gatherings?

An indoor space is any area, room or premises that is substantially enclosed by a roof and walls (this also applies to temporary structures, for example a marquee). Outdoor spaces are not enclosed by a roof or walls.

How do I stay safe in a gathering?

COVID-19 is spread through contact with people. In any gathering or setting it is important to maintain:

  • physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres between people
  • hand hygiene
  • respiratory hygiene (sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissues and clean your hands after coughing or sneezing)
  • frequent environmental cleaning and disinfection

Why is staying 1.5 metres from others important?

Physical distancing continues to be the strongest safeguard to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You must continue to maintain a safe distance of no less than 1.5 metres between yourself and others, where safe and practical.

What is meant by the maximum density limit?

The maximum density limit aims to prevent the crowding of people in a space. A premises must not have a density of more than 1 person per 4 square metres of floor space. This means an operator must not allow people to enter or stay on the premises (indoor or outdoor) if the size of the premises is insufficient to allow for 4 square metres of space for each person.

What is the 4 square metres per person rule?

The maximum number of people at a premises is limited by the floor space of the premises, as a minimum of 4 square metres of space is required for each attendee. This is known as the 4 square metre rule.

The maximum number of people allowed at a premises is the smaller number of either:

  • The maximum number of people for which there is 4 square metres per person
  • The maximum number gathering number specified for the type of venue/activity

How to apply the 4 square metres per person rule

To comply with the 4 square metre rule, measure the length and width of the loor space. Multiply the length by the width to calculate the area in square metres, and divide this by four. The final number is the maximum number of people allowed in the premises (up to the maximum gathering size).

For example, in hospitality venues, the operator of a premises must not allow people to enter or stay on the premises (whether outdoor or indoor) if the size of the premises is insufficient to allow for 4 square metres of space for each person (the four square metre rule).

Where practicable, the operator should:

  • Ensure that staff and patrons are 1.5 metres away from each other. For groups of people seated at the same table, and for staff at times, this will not be practicable.
  • Arrange the premises in such a way so that the 1.5 metre rule can be adhered to between patrons from different tables.
  • Coordinate arrivals and seating of patrons so that crowding does not occur in arrival/waiting areas.
  • Ensure that there is appropriate space between dine-in patrons and takeaway food pickup areas within the premises.

Read more about requirements of businesses under the COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework.