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 if:
- you have symptoms of COVID-19
- you've tested positive for COVID-19
- you live with someone who has symptoms or tested positive
- 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
- you arrive in the UK from a country with a high COVID-19 risk
If you think you've been in contact with someone who has coronavirus, but you do not have symptoms and have not been told to self-isolate, continue to follow social distancing advice.
How long to self-isolate
You will need to self-isolate for at least 10 days if:
- you have symptoms of COVID-19 and you tested positive or did not have a test
- you tested positive but have not have symptoms
If you have symptoms, the 10 days starts from when they started.
If you have no symptoms but have tested positive, the 10 days starts from when you had the test.
Keep self-isolating if you have any of these symptoms after the 10 days:
- a high temperature or feeling hot and shivery
- a runny nose or sneezing
- feeling or being sick
Only stop self-isolating when these symptoms have gone.
You'll also need to self-isolate for 10 days if:
- someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive (the 10-days start from the day the first person in your house developed symptoms, if they have no symptoms it will be from the day of their test. You should self-isolate for a further 10 days from when symptoms start)
- someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive and you have been in close contact with them since or during the 48 hours before their symptoms started (10 days starts from when you were last in contact with them)
- you've been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
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.
Examples of close contact include:
- close face to face contact (under 1 metre) for any length of time
- being within 1 to 2 metres of each other for more than 15 minutes
- spending lots of time in your home, such as cleaning it
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. They would need to self-isolate if they live with you or they are part of your support bubble and you have symptoms or have tested positive.
If they get any COVID-19 symptoms, they must self-isolate and get a coronavirus 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.