COVID NHS Guidance
When to self-isolate and what to do
What is self-isolation?
Self-isolation is when you stay at home because you have or might have coronavirus (COVID-19). This helps stop the virus spreading to other people. Information:
Self-isolation is different to:
- social distancing – general advice for everyone to avoid close contact with other people
- shielding – advice for people at high risk from coronavirus to stay at home to avoid getting the virus
When to self-isolate
- you have any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
- you're waiting for a coronavirus test result
- you've tested positive for coronavirus – this means you have coronavirus
- you live with someone who has symptoms, is waiting for a test result or has tested positive
- someone in your support bubble has symptoms, is waiting for a test result or has tested positive
What is a support bubble?
There is separate advice if you're told by NHS Test and Trace that you've been in contact with a person with coronavirus. For information about self-isolating when you come to the UK, see GOV.UK: how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK. How to self-isolate
You must not leave your home if you're self-isolating. Don't
- go to work, school or public places – work from home if you can
- go on public transport or use taxis
- go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home
- have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care
- go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one
Find out how to avoid spreading coronavirus to people you live with. Get a test if you have symptoms
If you have symptoms, get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible. The test needs to be done in the first 5 days of having symptoms.
Get a test to check if you have coronavirus 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 coronavirus. What does close contact mean?
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 coronavirus symptoms, they must self-isolate and get a coronavirus test as soon as possible. How long to self-isolate
If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you'll usually need to self-isolate for at least 7 days. If you live with someone who has symptoms, you'll usually need to self-isolate for 14 days. If someone in your support bubble has symptoms, you'll usually need to self-isolate for 14 days. Read more about how long to self-isolate. Get an isolation note for your employer if you're unable to work If you need to self-isolate, you can get an isolation note to send to your employer as proof you need to be off work. You do not need to get a note from a GP. Get an isolation note