Self-isolation means staying indoors and completely avoiding contact with other people. This includes the people you live with. It is sometimes called self-quarantine.
You should self-isolate when there is a high risk you could spread COVID-19 (coronavirus) to other people.
If you live with other people, stay on your own in a room with a window you can open, if possible.
Do not go outside. Only leave your house if you need urgent medical help, such as going to hospital. Ask other people to go to the shop or pharmacy for you.
Read more about how to self-isolate
When to self-isolate
Self-isolate if you:
- have symptoms of COVID-19
- get a positive PCR or antigen test result for COVID-19, even if you have mild symptoms or no symptoms
- were tested because you had symptoms and are waiting for PCR test results
Do this even if you are vaccinated or have had your booster dose.
How to self-isolate
stay at home, in a room with a window you can open
keep away from other people – especially older people or anyone with a long-term medical condition
use a different bathroom to others in your household, if possible
cover your coughs and sneezes using a tissue – clean your hands properly after
ask friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food or supplies – if they stand back from the door, you can speak with them
wash your hands properly and often
use your own towel – do not share a towel with others
clean your room every day with a household cleaner or disinfectant
wear a medical or respirator face mask if you have to be in the same room as someone else during self-isolation and for 3 days after you leave self-isolation
do not go outside unless you have your own outdoor space away from other people
do not go to work, school, religious services or public areas
do not go to the shops or pharmacy for any reason – ask them to deliver or ask someone to go for you
do not share things like food, dishes or other household items
do not use public transport or taxis
do not have any visitors to your home
Read about what to do if you live with other people and are self-isolating
If you start to feel unwell
If you start to feel very unwell, phone your GP. Particularly if your breathing changes or becomes difficult, or your cough gets worse. Do not go to your GP or to a pharmacy in person.
Immediate action required: Call 112 or 999 if:
- you are very short of breath and your GP is not available
When you can stop self-isolating
You should start to self-isolate as soon as you get symptoms of COVID-19 or get a positive antigen test result.
How long you need to self-isolate depends on the results of your test.
Find out what to do if you get a:
When you stop self-isolating after 7 days, you need to take extra care for another 3 days to reduce the risk of passing COVID-19 on.
There is separate advice for children who are isolating
After your 7 days of self-isolation
After your 7 days of self-isolation, you can go back to your normal activities.
When you stop self-isolating, take extra care for another 3 days.
- limit close contact with other people outside your household
- wear a face covering
- avoid contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19
- work from home unless it is essential to go to work in person
Be especially careful in places that are:
- poorly ventilated
- hard to avoid close contact with people
People who cannot self-isolate
It may not be possible for some people with COVID-19 to self-isolate. For example, a child, an older person or someone with a disability.
Follow the advice on caring for someone who cannot self-isolate
How to cope with self-isolation
Keep yourself mobile by getting up and moving around as much as possible. If you have a private garden, backyard or balcony, go out and get some fresh air.
Stay in touch with people over the phone. Ask a family member, friend or neighbour to check in with you over the phone a few times every day. Let them know how you are feeling.
Get any food or medicines you need delivered to your home. Ask someone to get these things for you if home delivery is not an option. Do not go to the pharmacy or shop yourself as you could put others at risk.