Skip to main content

We use strictly necessary cookies to make our site work. We would also like to set optional cookies (analytical, functional and YouTube) to enhance and improve our service. You can opt-out of these cookies. By clicking “Accept All Cookies” you can agree to the use of all cookies.

Cookies Statement and Privacy Statement

Close contact and casual contact

If you come into contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus), you may be a close contact.

Close contact

Close contact can mean:

  • spending more than 15 minutes of face-to-face contact within 2 metres of someone who has COVID-19, indoors or outdoors
  • living in the same house or shared accommodation as someone who has COVID-19
  • sitting within 2 seats of someone who has COVID-19 on public transport or an airplane

Spending more than 2 hours in an indoor space with someone who has COVID-19 will sometimes count as close or casual contact. This could be an office or a classroom. But it will depend on the size of the room and other factors. Public health doctors or contact tracers will let you know if you are at risk during contact tracing and public health risk assessments.

Healthcare workers should follow separate advice:

How you'll know if you are a close contact

You'll usually find out if you are a close contact from the:

When you are a close contact

You will be a close contact if the person you were in contact with:

  • had symptoms of COVID-19 and you were in contact with them up to 48 hours before they developed symptoms and started self-isolating
  • did not have symptoms and you were in contact with them up to 24 hours before they tested positive

If you are a close contact but have not been contacted

If you believe you are a close contact but have not been contacted by contact tracing:

Lo-call: 1850 24 1850

Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm

Saturday and Sunday 9am to 5pm

What to do if you are a close contact

If you are a close contact you need to:

If you don't know who you were in close contact with, contact tracing will tell you the date you can stop restricting your movements.

Restrict your movements for 14 days even if your test comes back negative. It can take up to 14 days for the virus to show up in your system after you have been exposed to it.

Other household members

If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19, other members of the household do not need to restrict their movements.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you will need to self-isolate and other members of the household will need to restrict their movements.

If you are caring for someone who cannot self-isolate, you and the rest of the household should restrict your movements for 17 days.

You can become a close contact more than once. You will need to restrict your movements each time.

If you are an essential healthcare worker and you become a close contact, ring your manager and occupational health department. Do not go to work until you have spoken to them.

Getting a test

If our contact tracing team contact you, they will arrange a test.

Read about test results.

Second tests for close contacts

You may need to have a second test even if your first test is negative. You'll be told if you need to have one or not.

The second test is usually 7 days after the day you were last in contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19.

The reason for the second test is because it can take up to 14 days for the virus to show up in your system after you have been exposed to it.

Continue to restrict your movements, even if your first test was negative.

Follow up from contact tracer

During the 14 days you are restricting your movements you may get a daily text from a member of the contact tracing team. This is to remind you to call your GP if you develop any symptoms of COVID-19.

Living with someone who is a close contact

You do not need to restrict your movements if you have been in contact with someone who is a close contact and has no symptoms. You can continue to go to work, school, preschool or childcare as long as you also have no symptoms.

If the close contact develops symptoms, they will need to self-isolate and phone a GP. You will become a close contact if they test positive for COVID-19. You will need to restrict your movements.

Casual contact

You may have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, but you do not meet the definition to be a close contact. This is a casual contact.

If you are a casual contact, you do not need to restrict your movements. Continue to follow the advice on how to protect yourself and others. If you are a casual contact, you do not need to be tested.

Related topics

If you live with other people and are self-isolating

Treat COVID-19 symptoms at home

Travel advice from the Government

Last updated: 16 November 2020 at 11.50am

Join the Fight Against Coronavirus.

Download the CovidTracker app