Indoor event limit to prevent virus spread

Rebecca Gredley and Finbar O'Mallon
Australians have been told to only meet in rooms of one person every four square metres

Australians will have to space themselves out one person for every four square metres for indoor gatherings of less than 100 people.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has introduced the new measure as part of a crackdown on activities to slow the spread of coronavirus.

"So for example ... if you've got a meeting room or something like that, that's 100 square metres, then you can have 25 people in that room," he told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

"I know these rules will take some time for people to get used to, but I would ask people to move as quickly as they can."

The new limit comes into effect on Friday, with the government saying cinemas and theatres would have to reduce the density of patrons.

Restaurants would also need to rethink how many people they allowed in.

Families would be allowed to sit together at entertainment venues, with all venues expected to provide hand sanitiser and be frequently cleaning.

Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said people should be practising social distancing whenever possible by keeping 1.5 metres apart from each other.

"That's why we have guidelines for people in gatherings of less than 100," Professor Murphy said.

"There's no point having a gathering of 20 people if it's in a tiny room and you're all together."

Mr Morrison acknowledged the new guidelines would mean a lot of change for venues and people.

"Every Australian has a role to play to slow this virus," Mr Morrison said.

"Don't wait to see a sign, don't wait for any other specific instruction."