Social Distancing during COVID-19

Social distancing means reducing the number of close social and physical contacts we have with one another. Combining social distancing with good personal hygiene slows the spread of a pandemic. This helps protect the most vulnerable members of the community and reduces the impact of the pandemic on essential, life-saving health services. Everyone should practice social distancing, as it reduces the potential for transmission.

Social distancing includes:

  • not shaking hands, hugging or kissing as a greeting.
  • keeping a distance of 2 meters between yourself and other people, where possible.
  • avoiding visiting vulnerable people, such as those in aged care facilities or hospitals, infants, or people with compromised immune systems because of illness or medical treatment.
  • using debit and credit cards instead of cash and make use of online and self-serve transactions.
  • taking public transport in off-peak periods if you can.

Ocean pools and baths are filled with untreated sea water, which is changed periodically. The risk of contracting COVID-19 through swimming in ocean pools/baths is considered low. The COVID-19 virus is unlikely to survive for interminable periods in salt water.

People using ocean baths should:

  • stay at home if sick
  • stay at home if you have been asked by health authorities to self-isolate
  • do not swim if you have had diarrhea
  • shower with soap before swimming
  • minimize time spent out of the pool
  • comply with physical distancing (try to keep 2 meters from other people as much as possible)
  • comply with protective measures when in the change rooms and outside the pool (clean your hands, cover coughs and sneezes)
  • follow the usual health advice to avoid swimming for least 1 day after rain
  • try to attend when the pool is less busy.
  • Operators should clean facilities and surrounds regularly.

As children can spread a range of respiratory infections, and generally cannot comply with hygiene measures, children aged 16 years and younger should not visit aged care facilities. Exemptions to this can be assessed by the facility on a case-by-case basis, for example, where the resident is in palliative care. Anyone who is sick, even with minimal symptoms, should also defer their visit to aged care facilities until they are well.

Cruise ships have numerous passengers (often thousands), many of whom are older and have chronic medical conditions. Respiratory infections (unrelated to COVID-19) among passengers and crew are common on cruise ships. Cruise ships are responsible for and have policies to prevent and manage outbreaks of disease on board.

For each cruise ship arriving into USA from overseas, a health expert panel conducts a risk assessment based on the ports visited, whether passengers and crew have a risk of exposure to COVID-19, whether the ship’s doctor has identified a respiratory outbreak on board, and the results of test results done on board the ship.

Following this risk assessment, further assessment may be done when the ship docks, including checking people with fever and respiratory symptoms or who have a risk of exposure to COVID-19, and testing them for respiratory infections, including COVID-19.