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Two, four and eight square metre rules

Information on the two, four and eight square metre rules to prevent infection in the workplace

Key points

  • To make sure we can all stay safe, density limits apply on the number of people who can be in a venue or facility at the same time.  
  • Where a business has a publicly accessible space, the business must display a sign at each public entry to each space that specifies the maximum number of members of the public that may be present in the space at a single time. This number is calculated using either the two square metre rule for most businesses and the four square metre rule for unstaffed gyms.
  • The four square metre rule applies to gyms when they are unstaffed, such as 24 hour gyms.
  • You can find information on how to calculate how many people can be in your spaces on this page. 
  • For information on venues and facilities that must use the free Victorian Government QR Code Service or Victorian Government Application Programming Interface (API) linked system, visit the Record keeping for contact tracing – information for businesses page.
  • For information and advice for business owners: 

Does the square metre apply to everyone in the space i.e. staff and customers?

The square metre rule applies to limit the number of customers/visitors in a space in a venue. Where workers are engaging in activities with customers, they are included in the square metre rule. Workers should be included in the density limit in the following settings: 

  • a physical recreation facility including those exclusively used by a single professional sporting team 
  • an arena or stadium being used exclusively for training by a single professional sporting team or providing a venue for a professional sporting event  
  • a swimming pool including those used by a single professional sporting team 
  • an outdoor personal training facility 
  • places of worship and venues when hosting a religious ceremony 
  • a community facility including libraries 
  • a creative arts facility such as a studio 
  • a hairdresser, beauty service and a barber shop  
  • retail stores 
  • a residential property at which there is an auction or an inspection 
  • an auction house 
  • accommodation facilities except restaurants and cafes 
  • tours, tourist attractions and transport 
  • all other facilities that are work premises (with some exceptions). For further information, see the Workplace Directions on the Department of Health website

In the following settings workers are not included in the density requirements:  

  • a restaurant, pub, bar, café, food court or nightclub 
  • places of worship and venues when hosting a wedding or funeral 
  • entertainment or cultural venues including cinemas and casinos
  • a gallery, museum, national institution or historic site 
  • adult entertainment venues 
  • karaoke bars 

Venues and facilities can have the number of staff reasonably required to operate, in addition to any patrons permitted entry in accordance with the relevant density quotient. 

What is the ‘two square metre’ rule?

To limit the number of people gathering in a venue at the same time, some businesses must only allow entry to one person for every two square metres of available floor space. For some businesses this includes workers and for others workers are excluded. 

If a business is required to use electronic record-keeping, they must use the free Victorian Government QR Code Service or Victorian Government Application Programming Interface (API) linked digital record keeping system. QR codes are a barcode that people scan using their smartphone camera. The QR code takes the person to a website where they enter their details.

The Victorian Government QR Code Service is free for all Victorian businesses and venues. For more information on this service see Victorian Government QR Code Service.

Four square metre - 2x1

For example, if an outdoor space is 8 metres long and 1 metre wide, its total area is 8 square metres. Its density quotient is 2, so no more than 4 people would be permitted to be in the outdoor space at the same time. The density quotient must be rounded down, for example a density quotient of 9.68 becomes 9 patrons.

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 - 8x2
two square metre - 4x2

What is the ‘four square metre’ rule?

To limit the number of people gathering in a venue at the same time, some businesses must only allow entry to one patron for every four square metres of available floor space.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Four square metre rule - 2 metres x 2 metres = 4 square metres

For example, if a space is 8 metres long and 2 metres wide, its total area is 16 square metres. Using the ‘four square metre’ rule, the density limit (also called the density quotient in the Victorian Chief Health Officer’s directions) is 4. So no more than 4 people would be permitted to be in that indoor space at the same time.   

The density limit must be rounded down to the nearest whole number. For example – a density limit calculation of 9.68 becomes 9 people.

Four square metre - 8x2

The spaces that are specifically for staff only (for example, behind bars or counters) are not included in the total floor space when calculating the density limit for customers.

Four square metre - 10x6

Closed areas within venues (for example, storage areas that are accessed only by staff) cannot be included when calculating the number of members of the public permitted under the four square metre rule. 

Does the ‘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). 
  • Square metre density quotients are currently not mandatory in lifts, but responsible use of lifts is encouraged. 
  • It’s important to avoid taking a crowded lift and wait for the next lift where possible. 
  • Appropriate cleaning of high touch surfaces such as lift buttons and handrails must occur regularly and operators may consider providing hand sanitiser and cleaning wipes for users and staff. 
  • Keep at least 1.5 metres between yourself and others while waiting for a lift and during use, where practical. Floor markings at lift entrances helps users maintain physical distancing while waiting for the lift and avoids bottle necks occurring near lift entrances. 
  • 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. 

Reviewed 09 April 2021

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