COVID-19 Social Distancing in Lifts

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted just about every part of life in one way or another and the way that we use lifts in public spaces is no exception. The following are some recommendations for those responsible for the safe use of public lifts.

Limit Passengers

The number of passengers allowed inside a lift can be easily worked out by looking at the current government recommended distance between persons and using that to determine the maximum number of passengers the lift can carry. If the lift is very small that may mean limiting to one passenger at a time. Medium-sized lifts with a square 1:1 floor ratio may end up being split into four quadrants. Larger lifts will allow for more passengers, but be mindful of any regulations that limit the total number of persons allowed within any confined area.

Provide Visual Instructions & Guides

Providing simple and clear instructions to the lift passengers is essential.

Use signage both inside and outside the lift to indicate the maximum capacity. This can be reinforced with marked out floor areas creating a square of safe distance between each passenger. Outside of the lift, provide floor markings for safe queuing.

Provide clear markings for distancing between lift passengers.

If the use of face masks is mandatory then reinforce this with signage providing both written and visual instruction. Even if face masks are not mandatory, you may wish to encourage their use, however, be wary of creating ambiguity and confusion by making it clear that it is only a recommendation and not mandatory.

In smaller buildings, some may prefer to use stairs, rather than queuing for a lift. For those who are able, stairs are a viable alternative so make sure signage providing clear direction towards the stairs is visible.

Maintain a Clean Environment

Regular cleaning is essential and special focus needs to be given to touchpoints such as the lift buttons, both on the inside and outside of the lift. More frequent than usual cleaning by cleaning staff is going to be necessary, however, it is important to promote good hygiene to the lift’s passengers as well. Make sure an alcohol-based sanitiser is available to passengers to apply outside the lift before they press the lift call button. Provide additional sanitiser inside the lift in close proximity to the lift controls.


Maintaining a safe and risk-minimised environment in public lifts during the COVID-19 pandemic can be a challenging situation for those responsible. Distance recommendations and requirements of face masks can change as lockdown stages coming in and out of potential outbreaks occur. Having a plan in place is essential and this should be guided by state and federal government recommendations. Maintaining a safe and clean lift by communicating instruction in a clear, calm and concise way to passengers is the best way to do this.

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