Best ways to protect yourself from COVID-19


To protect yourself and others from coronavirus (COVID-19), think about how the virus is spread.

Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets. To infect you, it has to get from an infected person's nose or mouth into your eyes, nose or mouth. This can be direct or indirect (on hands, objects, surfaces).

Keep this in mind. It will help you remember all the things you need to do to protect yourself and others from the virus.

Stay at home

Everyone needs to stay at home to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

You should only leave your home to:

  • shop for essential food and household goods
  • attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products
  • care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits
  • exercise outdoors - within 5 kilometres of your home and only with people from your household - keeping 2 metres between you and other people
  • travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice social distancing
  • visit a very sick relative in care - compassionate visits will be decided on a case-by-case basis

Do not ignore or delay seeking medical treatment for abnormal signs or symptoms that you may be experiencing. Get medical help if you need it.

Social distancing

Social distancing is important to help slow the spread of coronavirus. It does this by minimising contact between potentially infected individuals and healthy individuals.

You should:

  • keep a space of 2 metres (6.5 feet) between you and other people
  • avoid communal sleeping areas
  • avoid any crowded places
  • not shake hands or make close contact with other people, if possible

There is very little risk if you are just passing someone. But try to keep a distance of 2 metres as much as possible.

Social distancing at work

Follow social distancing advice everywhere outside the home. If you are an essential worker still going to work, this includes your workplace.

Contact the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) by emailing [email protected] or phoning 1890 289 389 if you are:

  • worried about how your workplace is responding to social distancing or other measures
  • an employer and want advice on coronavirus prevention measures in the workplace

If you are going back to your work place, read information about returning to work safely.

There is separate advice about:

  • self-isolating if you have symptoms of coronavirus
  • taking extra care if you're at higher risk from coronavirus
  • cocooning for people who are at very high risk (extremely vulnerable)
  • what to do if you live with someone who has coronavirus symptoms
  • travel and coronavirus

Good hygiene and hand washing

Good hygiene and washing your hands properly and often will help to stop the spread of coronavirus. Follow this advice as strictly as possible and encourage others to do this too.


Wash your hands properly and often.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze.

Put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.


Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Do not share objects that touch your mouth – for example, bottles, cups.

When you should wash your hands

You should wash your hands:

  • after coughing or sneezing
  • before and after eating
  • before and after preparing food
  • if you were in contact with someone who has a fever or respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing)
  • before and after being on public transport, if you must use it
  • before and after being in a crowd (especially an indoor crowd)
  • when you arrive and leave buildings including your home or anyone else's home
  • if you have handled animals or animal waste
  • before having a cigarette or vaping
  • if your hands are dirty
  • after toilet use

Keep your hands in good condition. Moisturise them often. Any basic product that is not perfumed or coloured is OK.

Compassionate visits

You may be able to visit a very sick relative if they are in a:

  • hospital
  • nursing home
  • hospice
  • residential care setting

Talk to the healthcare staff caring for them. They will decide if it is safe for you to visit.

If you can visit

If you are allowed to visit:

  • follow any instructions you are given by healthcare staff
  • wash your hands properly before entering and leaving
  • follow social distancing rules when you visit - respect other patients, visitors and staff

If you cannot visit

It can be distressing if you can't visit your loved one. These restrictions are only in place to keep you, your loved one and healthcare staff safe. They will be lifted as soon as it is safe to do so.

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