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Last updated: 19 September 2020 at 12.01am

If you're at very high risk (extremely vulnerable) from coronavirus (COVID-19), you are advised to cocoon. This is because you are more likely to get very sick from coronavirus, if you catch it.

You should stay at home as much as possible and avoid physical contact with other people. Limit your social interactions to a very small network for short periods of time.

Certain activities carry more risk of catching coronavirus.

These include:

  • attending events with large groups - such as weddings and funerals
  • crowded areas where you can't keep 2 metres away from other people

The more people in a venue, the greater the risk. You will have to decide what is right for you and your health.

There are things you should continue to do to protect yourself from coronavirus. Follow the advice below and use your best judgement to stay safe.

People who are over 70 years of age or medically vulnerable should take extra care to protect themselves. There are different levels of restrictions in place in some counties. Visit for more information about levels of restrictions across Ireland.

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 not able to work from home, 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.

How to cocoon


Stay at home as much as possible.

You can meet in small groups outdoors following the advice below.

You can have a small number of visitors to your home following the advice below.

Wear a face covering when you meet with anyone indoors - ask them to also wear a face covering, if they cannot maintain a 2 metre distance.

If you have a garden or balcony, spend time outside for fresh air.

Go for a walk or drive following the advice below.

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 or follow the shopping advice below.

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


Do not attend gatherings where you can't keep 2 metres apart from other people.

Do not have any contact with anyone who is unwell.

Do not use public transport, if possible.

Phone your GP if you have any symptoms of coronavirus.

Dublin is at level 3 of restrictions. Follow this advice if you live in Dublin.

Meeting people from another household

Ideally, choose a small social group and try to limit your meetings to these same 6 people. This will help to reduce your risk of getting coronavirus.

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

Meeting people indoors

You can have visitors to your home or you can visit another household.

Wear a face covering when you meet with anyone indoors. This includes visitors and people you visit.

The people you meet should:

If you choose to visit other people’s homes, tell them in advance that you are coming. Make sure that no one in the household is unwell with coronavirus symptoms.

You should stay 2 metres away from other people and wash your hands on returning home. You should wear a face covering if you cannot maintain a 2 metre distance.

People should not visit you if they have symptoms of coronavirus.

After visitors leave, it is good practice to clean surfaces they have been in contact with. Use your usual household cleaning agents and detergents.

Meeting people outdoors

If you choose to meet people you should:

  • only meet up in small groups
  • 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

Going for a walk

If you go for a walk, you should:

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

Going for a drive

If you go for a drive:

  • go alone, with someone who is cocooning with you or someone who is in your core group of family or friends
  • and need to share with someone outside of your core group, such as a taxi, you should both wear face coverings and keep as much distance as possible
  • keep a distance of 2 metres between you and other people when out
  • wash your hands when you get back home


Stay at home as much as possible and avoid physical contact with other people if you are cocooning.

If you do travel within your county or to another county, look at the level of the spread of the virus in that region. This can help you think about the best way to protect yourself before you travel.

To read daily updates on the latest cases by county, visit and search for 'cases by county’. You'll find this information in the latest 'Statement from the National Public Health Emergency Team'.

Using public transport

You should avoid using public transport if possible.

If you need to use public transport:

  • go at non-peak times, if possible
  • wear a face covering - this is the law
  • stay 2 metres away from other people
  • wash your hands when you get back home

Going to restaurants

If you choose to go to a restaurant, you should assess the risk before you go.

The restaurant you choose should:

  • be large enough to accommodate 2 metre distancing between tables
  • have safe entry and exit that allows you to keep 2 metres away from others
  • follow public health guidance around strict hygiene measures

To help minimise your risk:

  • keep your visit as short as possible
  • tell the service provider that you are cocooning, if you wish
  • wear a face covering when you move around the restaurant
  • wash your hands when you get back home


If you are cocooning, it is best to ask friends or family to go grocery shopping for you. This is because it can be hard to keep a 2 metre distance between you and other people in shops.

If you choose to go shopping, you should:

  • wear a face covering - this is the law in shops, shopping centres and some other retail environments such as hairdressers and cinemas
  • go during the dedicated shopping hours for people who are cocooning - check these with your local supermarket
  • follow strict social distancing guidelines, keeping a distance of 2 metres between you and other people

Read more advice on shopping safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Using services where social distancing is not possible

There are services where keeping 2 metres apart from the service provider is not practical. For example, hair salons. It is up to you to assess the risk before using these services.

To minimise your risk:

  • tell the service provider that you are cocooning when making an appointment
  • limit your number of visits to these places
  • keep appointments as short as possible
  • ask for a time and day when the business has as few other customers as possible
  • make sure the business follows public health guidance around hygiene and understands your needs
  • wear a face covering
  • wash your hands when you get back home

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.

Medicines and prescriptions

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

Read about medicines and coronavirus.

Long term residential care

If you live in a long term residential care facility, talk to your carer about exercise and taking part in small group activities. They can help you decide what the safest option is for you.

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 should contact their GP immediately.

If they test positive for coronavirus, they should stay away until both the following apply to them:

  • 5 days with no fever
  • 10 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:

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

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:

  • Keep yourself mobile - get up and move around as much as possible.
  • Go for a walk or meet people outdoors but keep a distance of 2 metres between you and other people.
  • Follow our advice on exercising indoors.
  • Try to maintain a routine.
  • Stay in touch with friends or relatives by phone or on social media.

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

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