Coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-isolation and when you need to do this

UK Chief Medical Officers' statement on the self-isolation period 11 December 2020

A change to the self-isolation period from 14 to 10 days has been announced.

Website: UK Chief Medical Officers' statement on the self-isolation period: 11 December 2020 (opens in a new window)

In this section


What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation is when you do not leave your home because you have or might have coronavirus (COVID-19). It is very important that anyone who has the virus, or might have been exposed to it, restricts the number of people they come into contact with for 10 days. This is the most effective way of preventing the coronavirus from spreading.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result must stay at home for the full isolation period. This is because they could pass it on to others, even if they don’t have symptoms.

What to do if coronavirus symptoms get worse

Most people with COVID-19 will experience a mild illness. Seek prompt medical attention if your illness or the illness of someone in your household is worsening. It's important to get medical help if your symptoms get worse.

Urgent advice - use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service (opens in a new window) if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • you feel breathless and it's getting worse
  • your symptoms get worse and you're not sure what to do
  • Are you are self-isolating or vulnerable due to Covid-19 and need assistance?

If there is a medical emergency call 999 and inform the operator you may have coronavirus.
 


Who needs to self-isolate?

People must self-isolate immediately if:

  • they have any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
  • they have tested positive for coronavirus
  • they are waiting for a coronavirus test result
  • they live with someone who has symptoms or tested positive
  • they have been in close contact with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive
  • they told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app
  • they arrive in the UK from a country with a high coronavirus risk

Full guidance regarding self-isolation when someone has travelled

Website: Coronavirus (COVID-19): how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK from GOV.UK (opens in a new window)


How do people self-isolate?

If people self-isolate they must not leave their home.

They also must not:

  • go to work, school or public places
  • not to go on public transport or use taxis
  • not to go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home
  • not to have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care
  • not to go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one

Stay as far away from other members of your household as possible, especially if they are clinically extremely vulnerable. Wherever possible, avoid using shared spaces such as kitchens and other living areas while others are present and take your meals back to your room to eat. Avoid sharing household items such as dishes, drinking glasses, towels, bedding or other household items. Wear a face covering or a surgical mask when spending time in shared areas inside your home. Take exercise within your home, garden or private outdoor space. Follow the general advice to reduce the spread of the infection within your household.

Website:Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection from GOV.UK (opens in a new window)


How long do people need to self-isolate for?

How long you need to self-isolate depends on if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) or you've been in close contact with someone who does.

Website: How long to self-isolate from the NHS (opens in a new window)

  • if some has of COVID-19 however mild, they must self-isolate for at least 10 days from when their symptoms started
  • after 10 days, if they still have a temperature they should continue to self-isolate and seek medical advice
  • they do not need to self-isolate after 10 days if the only remaining symptoms are a cough or loss of sense of smell or taste, as these symptoms can last for several weeks after the infection has gone
  • if they do not have symptoms but have tested positive for COVID-19, they must stay at home for 10 days from the day the test was taken
    • this is because the virus can still be passed to others
    • if they develop symptoms after a positive test, they must restart the 10-day period from the day that symptoms develop (this may be relevant for staff who undertake regular testing due to where they work)
  • if they live with others, all other household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 10 days
    • the 10 day period starts from the day when the first person in the household became ill or if they do not have symptoms, from the day their test was taken
    • if anyone else in the household starts displaying symptoms, they must stay at home for at least 10 days from when their symptoms appear, regardless of what day they are on in their original 10 day isolation period
    • if someone identified as a contact is tested and has a negative test result they still need to compete their 10 day isolation period
  • day one starts on the day that someone has symptoms
    • if they don’t have symptoms it is the day a test was taken
    • if they are self-isolating because they are a household member the 10 day period starts from the day the first person in the house developed symptoms or, if they did not have symptoms, from the day their test was taken
    • contacts of a person who has had a positive test result for COVID-19 must self-isolate at home for 10 days from the date of their last contact with them
  • contacts should self-isolate for 10 days from their last contact with a positive case within their infectious period
    • the infectious period is defined as 2 days prior to onset of symptoms or 2 days prior to the date of a positive test if the case has had no symptoms, until 10 days after symptom onset or a positive test

Website: Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection from GOV.UK (opens in a new window)


Are you are self-isolating or vulnerable due to Covid-19 and need assistance?

Website: Here2Help Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Customer Service Contact Team telephone 01905 768053 choose option three ( this number is available from Monday to Thursday from 9.00am to 5.00pm and Friday from  9.00am to 4.30pm) 


Test and trace support payment

A new £500 lump sum self-isolation support payment has been set up to help people on low incomes who are unable to work from home if they are told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and will lose income as a result. 

Website: Test and trace support payment


Get an isolation note for your employer

If someone needs time off work they can get an isolation note to give to their employer.

Website: Get an isolation note from then NHS (opens in a new window)


Related content

Website: Self-isolation and treating coronavirus symptoms from NHS (opens in a new window)

Website: Coronavirus (COVID-19): how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK from GOV.UK (opens in a new window)

Website: Staying at home wellbeing

Website: Symptoms and how to get a test