When should you self isolate?

Self-isolation is when you stay at home because you have or might have COVID-19. This helps stop the virus spreading to other people.

You should not leave your house and should stay at home if:

  • You have symptoms of COVID-19
  • You are waiting for a COVID-19 test result
  • You've tested positive for COVID-19
  • You live with someone who has symptoms, is waiting for a test result or has tested positive for COVID-19 and you have not been vaccinated.

For further information about self-isolation, you can visit the Government web pages here if you're in England and here if you're in Wales, and NHS web pages here.


How do you self isolate?

If you are self-isolating, do NOT:

  • leave your home for any reason (you should exercise at home)
  • go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
  • have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home

COVID-19 testing

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should ask for a test. Getting tested will help you find out if you and anyone you live with can stop self-isolating. Find out how to request a test here.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace by email, text or phone who will ask where you've been recently and who you've been in close contact with. 

You can download an NHS COVID-19 app which will allow you to report symptoms, order a test, check in to venues by scanning a QR code and help the NHS trace people that may have COVID-19.


How long to self-isolate if you have symptoms?

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, in England, you'll need to self-isolate for at least seven days from when your symptoms began and ten days in Wales. People in England are able to end quarantine after seven days instead of ten by providing negative lateral flow results on day six and day seven of their quarantine. This guidance applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status. Learn more here

After seven/ten days, you can stop self-isolating if:

  • your symptoms have gone
  • if you just have a cough or changes to your sense of smell or taste – these symptoms can last for weeks after the infection has gone
  • you provide negative lateral flow results on day six and day seven of quarantine (England only)

After seven/ten days, you should continue to self isolate if you still have any of these symptoms:

  • you have a high temperature or feeling hot and shivery
  • you have a runny nose or sneezing
  • you are feeling or being sick
  • you have diarrhoea
  • you have a loss of appetite
  • you have positive lateral flow test results on days six and seven of quarantine (England only)

Only stop self-isolating when these symptoms have gone.


Do you live with or have had contact with someone who has COVID-19 symptoms?

If you live with someone or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, you'll need to self-isolate if you have not been fully vaccinated. If you have been fully vaccinated and a PCR test confirms you are negative you may not need to self-isolate. You should follow the guidance on self isolation from the NHS.


Do you have symptoms and live with a vulnerable person?

If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to arrange for them to stay with friends or family for ten days.

If you have to stay at home together, try to follow the following steps:

  • try to keep two metres (three steps) away from each other
  • avoid using shared spaces, such as kitchens or bathrooms, at the same time as each other
  • open windows in shared spaces if you can
  • clean a shared bathroom each time you use it, for example by wiping the surfaces you have touched
  • use a dishwasher if you have one – if you do not have one, use washing-up liquid and warm water and dry everything thoroughly
  • avoid sharing a bed, if possible
  • do not share towels, including hand towels and tea towels

For more information visit the NHS website here