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Last updated: 18 May 2020 at 9.30am

If you're at very high risk (extremely vulnerable) from coronavirus (COVID-19), there are extra steps you're advised to take to protect yourself.

These extra steps are called cocooning.

You are strongly advised to stay at home and avoid any face-to-face contact.

How to cocoon


Stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact. You can meet up to 4 people outdoors following the advice below.

If you have a garden or balcony, spend time outside for fresh air. You may also go out for a short walk or drive but follow the advice below.

Minimise all non-essential contact with other members of your household.

Keep in touch with family and friends over the phone or online if you have access.

Keep yourself mobile by getting up and moving as much as possible.

Ask neighbours, family or friends to get any shopping or medicine you need - do not go out shopping.

Arrange for food or medicine deliveries to be left outside your door.

Use the phone if you need to contact your GP or other services - do not leave your house.


Do not have visitors to your home, except for essential carers.

Do not attend any gatherings, including gatherings with family and friends anywhere. But you can meet up to 4 people outdoors following the advice below.

Phone your GP if you have any symptoms of coronavirus.

Going for a walk

If you choose to go for a short walk beyond your garden you should:

  • keep a distance of 2 metres between you and other people when out
  • avoid shops
  • avoid other people as much as possible
  • avoid touching people or surfaces
  • wash your hands when you get back home

Going for a drive

You may go for a short drive if you:

  • stay within a 5km distance from your home
  • only share the journey with someone who is also cocooning in your home and no one else
  • keep a distance of 2 metres between you and other people when out
  • wash your hands when you get back home

If you live in a long term residential care facility, talk to your carer about a short walk or exercise. They can help you decide what the safest option is for you.

Meeting people outdoors

If you choose to meet people you should:

  • only meet outdoors and avoid shops
  • only meet in small groups of up to 4 people
  • only meet for very short periods of time
  • keep a distance of 2 metres between you and other people in the group
  • wash your hands when you get back home

If you have a specific condition which means your doctor has advised against meeting other people, always follow your doctor's advice.

People who need to cocoon

You need to cocoon if you're at very high risk (extremely vulnerable) from coronavirus.

Read about people at higher risk from coronavirus.

If you are unsure if you need to cocoon or not, talk to your doctor.

If you are an essential worker, get advice from Occupational Health.

Talk to your GP if your child has a pre-existing health condition and you want advice on how to protect them.

Medicines and prescriptions

Changes have been to make it easier for you to get your medicines and prescriptions.

Read about medicines and coronavirus.

If you have a carer who visits you

You should still see people who provide essential support to you.

These include:

  • healthcare workers
  • people who provide personal support
  • social carers

These people can still visit you if they do not have any symptoms.

When carers visit, they need to:

  • wash their hands when they arrive
  • wash their hands often when they are in your home
  • try to stay 2 metres away from you, if possible

If your carer develops symptoms

If a carer develops symptoms, they will not be able to care for you while they are unwell. They must stay away until both the following apply to them:

  • 5 days with no fever
  • 14 days since their symptoms first appeared

Contact the person who arranged your care to arrange another carer.

You should have an alternative list of people who can help you with your care if your main carer becomes unwell.

Family Carers Ireland has a range of coronavirus supports and guides for carers. These include an Emergency Care Plan Booklet (PDF, 781kb, 10 pages).

Living with other people

Even though it is hard, you should minimise all non-essential contact with other members of your household while you are cocooning.

Other members of your household also need to cocoon if they are:

  • over the age of 70
  • have any of the conditions that make them a very high risk from coronavirus

They do not need to cocoon if they are under the age 70 or do not have one of the very high risk conditions.

But they can help you stay well by:

  • following the advice on social distancing and hand hygiene at home
  • spending as little time as possible in shared rooms, for example, the kitchen and sitting areas
  • opening windows to let fresh air into shared spaces
  • using separate towels, including hand towels and tea towels
  • cleaning cutlery, dishes and pans thoroughly
  • cleaning a shared bathroom each time they use it, for example, by wiping the surfaces you have touched
  • cleaning objects and surfaces they touch often (such as door handles, kettles and phones) using your usual cleaning products

Get support if you are cocooning

Community support is available for people who are cocooning.

The support includes help with collecting:

  • groceries
  • medicines
  • other essential items

In some cases, it also includes support to relieve social isolation.

Read more about how Local Authorities can help you during the coronavirus outbreak.

Looking after your health and wellbeing

Staying at home and reducing contact with other people can be difficult.

It may affect your mood and feelings. You may feel low, worried or have problems sleeping.

Things you can try to help you stay well:

ALONE have a support phone line for those who have concerns about coronavirus or are facing difficulties. Phone them on 0818 22 20 24, Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm.

Read more about looking after your mental health.

Related topics

Symptoms of coronavirus

How to wash your hands properly

People at higher risk from coronavirus