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.

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, you'll need to self-isolate for at least ten days from when your symptoms began.

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

  • your symptoms have gone
  • if just have a cough or changes to your sense of smell or taste – these symptoms can last for weeks after the infection has gone

After 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

Only stop self-isolating when these symptoms have gone.

You may be able to stop self isolating earlier if you receive a negative COVID-19 test result. Find out more here


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 symptoms, you'll need to self-isolate for ten days from the day their symptoms started. This is because it can take ten days for symptoms to appear.

If more than one person at home has symptoms, self-isolate for ten days from the day the first person started having symptoms.

If you get symptoms, self-isolate for seven days from when your symptoms start, even if it means you're self-isolating for longer than ten days and ask for a COVID-19 test.

If you do not get symptoms, you can stop self-isolating after ten days.


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