What does the new “two-person” social-distancing rule mean?

This week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced another new change to Australia's social-distancing measures. Previous rules and guidelines meant that gatherings of no more than 10 and then five people were prohibited. But the latest measures went even further - gatherings are now restricted to no more than two people as of Monday night.

What does this mean exactly? Many of us live in family homes or share accomodation where there are certainly more than two people under the one roof. What happens if you run into friends when you're out and about? Are you allowed to have friends over to your home? Is it okay to car pool? A lot of these scenarios were unclear.

RUSSH has deep-dived into all the available information out there to find out exactly what this means for us, our families and our community.

All indoor and outdoor gatherings are now capped to two people, with the exception of the members of your household. What this means, is that if you live in the same home as three, four, five, 10 or more other people, you can gather both indoors and outdoors with this group. Families can take walks together. Roommates can eat dinner together or drive together. But if your household is two or more people, that means no guests. Those who live alone can have one guest. Bottom line, you cannot gather with more than one person that lives outside your home.

From what we know, this is being policed. We have heard from community members that police are checking the address on driver's licenses to verify whether groups are actually part of the one household. The penalties vary from state to state, but we've seen reports that people will face a $1,600 fine in Victoria and a $1000 in New South Wales for breaching the two-person restriction.

This is obviously very hard news for many people. But it's human nature to always try to find a silver lining. There is power and comfort to be found in the number two. Two-person gatherings allow you to focus and give your undivided attention. Two-person gatherings allow you to connect and communicate more deeply. Two-person gatherings help you grow closer to that other person, whether they be a friend, partner or family-member.

While it's just the two of us for the time ahead, we're looking back at our favourite power duos - a reminder that there is joy in more intimate groups.

An ever enduring love story - David Bowie and Iman

David Bowie and Iman
courtesy musicmonkeys_ on Instagram


Lovers and collaborators - Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith
Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith by Norman Seeff


Best friends forever - Thelma and Louise

Thelma & Louise
Still from Thelma & Louise, directed by Ridley Scott with Pathé Entertainment


Childhood confidantes - Simon & Garfunkel

Simon and Garfunkel
courtesy simonandgarfunkel_ on Instagram


A brief affair - Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol

Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol

courtesy onlyediesedgwick on Instagram

Exceptions to the two-person rule

Weddings and funerals are exempt. Weddings can include groups of up to five people and funerals can include groups of up to 10. For funerals, you are able to apply to have a bigger group.

The rule also doesn't apply in full to families that live in different homes. So you can still go and visit your mum and dad even if you don't live with them. But it would probably be ill-advised to gather with them outside a home. And of course, normal social-distancing guidelines of 1.5m apart still stand.

These are the rules in general but vary from state to state. For example, Victorians are not allowed to visit family members unless dropping off supplies. It's worth checking in with the advice regarding your particular state.

Other restrictions you should know about

New South Wales quietly introduced new restrictions around leaving your house. The base line is that you should not leave your house without a reasonable excuse. People can face fines for up to $11,000 and even six months in jail for heading out without an excuse on the list of accepted reasons to leave your home. These are: shopping for things you need, heading to the pharmacy or doctor, for exercise or for work and education.

Moral of the story, don't go outside unless you really need to.