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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, 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, four or eight square metre rule depending on the venue, rounded down to the nearest whole number. 
  • You can find information on how to calculate how many people can be in your spaces on this page. 
  • All businesses must keep records. Businesses (except retail) applying the two square metre rule need to use electronic record keeping to record customer details.  If record keeping is done manually, businesses must apply the four square metre rule.  Retailers should keep electronic records, where practicable. Some types of businesses, for example karaoke bars, must also use electronic record keeping even when the four square metre rule is applied.  The Victorian Government is offering a free QR Code service.  
  • The two square metre rule applies to the indoor and outdoor spaces of food and drink, retail, places of worship, community facilities and entertainment businesses in Victoria. 
  • The four square metre rule applies to gaming machine areas, adult entertainment venues, staffed sport and exercise facilities, play centres, indoor skateparks and trampoline centres, indoor amusement parks, indoor pools, dance floors, and karaoke bars. 
  • The eight square metre rule applies to indoor sport and exercise facilities when they are unstaffed, such as 24 hour gyms.  
  • 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 activates 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  DHHS 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 
  • an 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.  

To be able to apply the two square metre rule, businesses must use electronic record keeping. 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.  

Businesses that don’t use electronic record keeping must apply the four square metre rule.

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 venues does the 'two square metre rule' apply to?

The two square metre rule applies to the indoor and outdoor spaces of food and drink, retail, places of worship, community facilities and entertainment businesses in Victoria.

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. 

What venues does the ‘four square metre’ rule apply to?

The four square metre rule applies to gaming machine areas, adult entertainment venues, staffed sport and exercise facilities, play centres, indoor skateparks and trampoline centres, indoor amusement parks, indoor pools and dance floors. The four square metre rule applies when businesses use manual record keeping.   

Karaoke bars are also bound by the four square metre rule. However, electronic record keeping is mandatory in these settings.

What happens if the ‘square metre' rule means I can have fewer than the maximum number people?

 You must apply the smaller limit to the number of people. 

As restrictions are eased, the density quotient acts as a safeguard to ensure that we don’t have too many people in close proximity.

What is the ‘eight square metre’ rule?

The eight square metre rule only applies to indoor sport and exercise facilities when unstaffed, for example 24 hour gyms.

Area = 8 square metres (8m2)

For example, if an indoor space is 8 metres long and 1 metre wide, its total area is 8 square metres. Using the ‘eight square metre’ rule, the density limit is 8 so no more than 1 person 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.

2 square metre rule - 8x1

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.

Area = 400 square metres (400m2)

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 19 February 2021

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