31 Mar, 2020 Last updated: 12 Mar, 2021

Dr Sandro Demaio explains what social distancing actually means (or as we prefer to call it – physical distancing – because you can still be social!) and the changes you must make to your everyday life to slow the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak

by VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio

Any coronavirus information mentioned is accurate at the time this article was first published (31 March 2020). For the most up-to-date information about coronavirus restrictions, please visit the source: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au

VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio recently spoke to the Geelong Advertiser about physical distancing to ensure as many Victorians as possible get a clear message about what it means for their everyday life.

News site thumbnail

See the Geelong Advertiser interview here, or read our summary below.


What does physical / social distancing actually mean?

VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio wants all Victorians to be clear that right now, the most important thing Victorians can do is stay home.

We understand this isn’t easy, but we all need to take this seriously to save lives.

What does this mean?

Your situation

What you need to do

You feel healthy and well (in other words, you don’t have any symptoms/you don’t feel sick), you haven’t been overseas and you haven’t been in contact with someone with coronavirus (COVID-19)

Physical distancing still applies to you:

  • only leave your home if it’s essential (for example to get medical supplies or food, or to go for a walk
  • don’t attend social gatherings like BBQs and parties, and don’t hang out in parks or shopping centres – we want people to stay at home and only leave the house if they really need to
  • if you want to get outside for some exercise, make sure you’re solo or with people in your household, be sure to keep 1.5m away from other people and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you return.

You’re in quarantine because you have coronavirus (COVID-19)

You must stay at homefor 14 days (even if you feel well):

  • don’t go to public places such as work, school, the pharmacy, shopping centres, childcare or university
  • ask someone to get food and other necessities for you and leave them at your front door
  • isolate yourself from other people in your household by staying in a single room as much as possible. Keep the door of the room closed and windows open where possible.

You’re in self-isolation because you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19)

Exactly the same as above (as if you were in quarantine because you have coronavirus)

You’re in enforced isolation because you have recently returned from overseas

Exactly the same as above (as if you were in quarantine because you have coronavirus).

Please note it has just been announced that all Australians returning from overseas as of midnight Saturday 28 March will need to quarantine in a hotel.

"Do not leave your home unless it’s essential, for example to get medical supplies or food, or to go for a walk ,” Dr Demaio said.


The risk coronavirus poses to the health of Victorians is extremely serious and real.  

We need everyone to stay home.

The restrictions in place to stop people gathering at places like cafes, pubs and gyms are there for a reason – to stop the spread of this virus and save lives.  

We need all Victorians to abide by these restrictions and take physical distancing seriously.  

While you may not become seriously ill with the virus yourself, your grandparent, an older neighbour or other vulnerable people in the community you don’t even know could die from this illness. It spreads incredibly quickly.

We all need to do our part to stop spreading the virus and save lives. 


Have questions about coronavirus (COVID-19)?


For all coronavirus questions visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au or call the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) hotline on 1800 020 080.