The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of non-pharmaceutical measures in the response to novel biological hazards. Using the WHO health emergency and disaster risk management (health-EDRM) framework, this review summarised the limiting and enabling factors for 10 behavioural primary prevention measures against droplet-borne communicable diseases. The review identified evidence-guided behavioural measures against transmission within at-risk communities, which included regular handwashing; wearing face masks; and avoidance of crowds and gatherings. Within these, strength of evidence towards effectiveness and implementation feasibility varied. Overall, however, evidence-based systematic behavioural studies for COVID-19-specific prevention, which would facilitate a pandemic response, are limited. The global public health community urgently needs further research with strong implementation feasibility, targeting resource-poor settings with low baseline health-EDRM capacity.