When to self-isolate and what to do
What is self-isolation?
Self-isolation is when you do not leave your home because you have or might have coronavirus (COVID-19).
This helps stop the virus spreading to other people.
When to self-isolate
Self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test as soon as possible if:
- you have symptoms of COVID-19
- you've tested positive for COVID-19
- you live with someone who has symptoms or tested positive (unless you are not required to self-isolate, please see below)
- someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive
- you're told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app
When you do not need to self-isolate
If someone you live with has symptoms of COVID-19, or has tested positive for COVID-19, you will not need to self-isolate and any of the following apply:
- you're fully vaccinated – this means 14 days have passed since your final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine given by the NHS
- you're under 18 years, 6 months old
- you're taking part or have taken part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial
- you're not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons
Even if you do not have symptoms, you should still:
- get a PCR test on GOV.UK to check if you have COVID-19
- follow advice on how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19
- consider limiting contact with people who are at higher risk from COVID-19
How long to self-isolate
If you test positive for COVID-19, your self-isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day you had the test, if you did not have symptoms) and the next 10 full days.
You may need to self-isolate for longer if you get symptoms while self-isolating or your symptoms do not go away.
How to self-isolate
You must not leave your home if you're self-isolating.
- do not go to work, school or public places - work from home if you can
- do not go on public transport or use taxis
- do not go out to get food and medicine - order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home
- do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family - except for people providing essential care
- do not go out to exercise - exercise at home or in your garden
When to get a test
If you have coronavirus symptoms get a test as soon as possible.
The symptoms are:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
The test needs to be done in the first 8 days of having symptoms. You do not need a test if you have no symptoms.
Tell people you've been in close contact with that you have symptoms
You may want to tell people you've been in close contact with in the past 48 hours that you might have COVID-19.
They do not need to self-isolate unless they're contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service. But they should take extra care to follow social distancing advice, including washing their hands often.
If they get any COVID-19 symptoms, they must self-isolate and get a COVID-19 test as soon as possible.
Help and support while you're staying at home
While you're self-isolating you can get help with everyday tasks, like collecting shopping or medicines, from an NHS volunteer.