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The difference between self-isolating and restricted movements

Last updated: 14 October 2020 at 5.05pm

This table shows the most common situations when people should self-isolate or restrict their movements. It also shows some of the main things they need to do.

Self-isolation (stay in your room)

Restrict your movements (stay at home)

Do this when you

  • are a close contact of someone who has tested positive
  • live with someone who has COVID-19 symptoms, but you feel well
  • arrive in Ireland from another country


In a room, on your own if possible, with a window you can open, at home or indoors.

At home/indoors.

Work or school

Do not go to work or school. If you feel well enough to work remotely or home school, do that from your own room.

Do not go to work or school, unless you work on your own and can completely avoid other people.

If you do not have symptoms and you are an essential worker, speak to your employer.

Outdoor exercise

Do not go outside unless you have your own outdoor space where you can get some fresh air away from other people.

You can go outside to exercise by yourself as long as you keep 2 metres from other people.

Going out, other than exercise and work

Stay in your room as much as possible and do not go outside for anything.

Stay at home and do not go to the shops or pharmacy unless it's absolutely necessary - order groceries online or have some family or friends drop them off.


Do not have visitors at your home and do not visit others.

Do not have visitors at your home and do not visit others.

Other members of your household

Need to restrict their movements and get a test for COVID-19.

Do not need to do anything, unless you develop symptoms of COVID-19. Then you will need to self-isolate and they will need to restrict their movements. If your household members develop symptoms, they will have to self-isolate.

When to stop

If you had a positive test result
Only stop self-isolating when you have had no fever for 5 days and it has been 10 days since you first developed symptoms.

If you were tested because you had symptoms and your result was not detected (COVID-19 virus was not found)
Only stop self-isolating when you have had no symptoms for 48 hours.

There is different advice for people in long-term residential care or treated in hospital.

If you were tested because you were a close contact of someone with COVID-19
Restrict your movements for 14 days, even if you have a test and your test comes back negative.

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

Read more about caring for someone who cannot self-isolate

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