Home Coronavirus: News and Advice When to self-isolate and what to do

When to self-isolate and what to do

by Guy Murphy

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.

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

It is a legal requirement?

Yes, from 28 September 2020, you are required by law to self-isolate if you test positive or you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

Fines for those breaking the self-isolation rules start at £1,000 and rise up to £10,000 for repeat offenders.

When to self-isolate

Self-isolate immediately if:

  • 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’ve tested positive for coronavirus – this means you have coronavirus
  • someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive
  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms and you’ve been in close contact with them since their symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started
  • someone in your support bubble tested positive and you’ve been in close contact with them since they had the test or in the 48 hours before their test
  • you’ve been told you’ve been in contact with someone who tested positive – find out what to do if 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 coronavirus risk – see UK: how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK

Do I still have to self-isolate if I’ve had a negative test result?

Yes you need to self-isolate even if you don’t have symptoms or if you’ve received a negative test result if someone in your household or support bubble has symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19.

How to self-isolate

You must not leave your home if you’re self-isolating. Do not go to work, school or public places, do not go on public transport or taxis, do not go out for food or medicines, do not have visitors to your home and do not go out to exercise.

When to get a test

Get a test as soon as possible if you have any symptoms of coronavirus.

The symptoms are:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

Book a test through www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or ring 119.

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 test as soon as possible.

How long to self-isolate

If you test positive, your self-isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day you had the test, if you do not have symptoms) and the next 10 full days.

Anyone you live with will also need to self-isolate at the same time.

You may need to self-isolate for longer if you get symptoms while self-isolating or your symptoms do not go away.

Read more about how long to self-isolate.

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
  • you might be able to get sick pay or other types of financial support if you’re not able to work

Find out about help and financial support while you’re self-isolating.

In addition, you can call the Knowsley Help and Support Line if you need help whilst you self-isolate. Call 0800 043 0073.