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Self-isolation

This guidance may change and people are advised to check often to keep up with the latest advice .

Anyone instructed to self-isolate because they are a positive case, or are a high risk contact of a positive case, will be required to self-isolate for a 10 day period.

Two tests will be required, one at the start of isolation and one at the end of isolation.

If you do not wish to be tested, you must complete a 21 day period of mandatory self-isolation instead.

The Information on this page relates to the rules of Self Isolation for those who test positive, or who are identified as a High risk contact of a positive test.

For information regarding the rules for travellers please see our Self Isolation for Travellers page.

When to self-isolate

You must self-isolate if you, or anyone in your household;

  • returns a positive test result
  • develops COVID-19 symptoms
  • is identified as a high risk contact of a positive case (isolate only until the high risk contact returns a negative test result. If the high risk contact goes on to test positive, you and any other household members MUST ALL continue to self-isolate)

In each of these cases you will receive a Direction Notice and should follow this.

For information regarding the rules for travellers please see our Self Isolation for Travellers page.

COVID-19 Symptoms

If you test positive, you and others members of your household will now need to self-isolate for the next ten days.  A further negative test is required before exiting isolation

A 21 day mandatory self-isolation period is required for those who choose not to be tested.

Your contact details will be passed onto the Cabinet Office Contact Tracing Service so any contacts can be followed up and also issued with a mandatory direction notice to self-isolate.

You MUST NOT leave your place of residence during the isolation period; stay at home.

If you receive a negative test result during your self isolation period you may exercise for 1 hour a day outside your home, remember to wear a mask and socially distance from others.

While in self-isolation

  • DO NOT leave your home for any reason
  • DO NOT go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
  • DO NOT take your dog for a walk or attend to other animals not kept on your property, you will need to get someone else to do it.
  • DO NOT allow members of another household to enter your garden or home.
  • DO NOT use outdoor communal areas, such as designated smoking areas
  • DO NOT visit any health and social care settings – including GPs, Dentists, Opticians or Hospital appointments (unless you are seeking emergency medical care)
  • DO NOT go to your vaccination appointment. If you have one booked, you can re-schedule it for after the self-isolation period is competed. If you are self-isolating by choice, you can still attend the appointment.
  • DO NOT put your waste outside. Personal waste such as used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths can be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. These bags must be double-bagged, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in the wheelie bin.
  • DO  continue to use your garden, if you have one but you should only use it if you feel well enough and do not need to access communal areas to get to it
  • DO  stay away from other family/household members where possible to reduce the risk of spreading infection.
  • DO  clean surfaces and door handles regularly and keep rooms ventilated to stop the spread of infection. See social distancing and good hygiene.
  • DO your laundry separately - Wash items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest water setting and dry items completely. Do not shake dirty laundry, this minimises the possibility of dispersing the virus through the air.
  • DO Clean and disinfect anything used for transporting laundry with your usual products, in line with the cleaning guidance above.
  • While you are ill or self-isolating, arrange for all food, medical and other supplies to be delivered to your home and ensure that the delivery person /driver/friend does not enter your home.
  • Do not leave your place of residence; stay at home.

Isolation FAQS

Can I sell items or have items collected from my household?

Sales and collections of items from other households are currently restricted when at least one of the households is self-isolating.

Can I walk my dog / Can I walk someone else’s dog?

If you are currently self-isolating you cannot walk your dog, and must find someone to do this for you. When handing over a dog for exercise you should following these guidelines;

  • When collecting the dog, you should make sure you do not have close contact with the dog owner (or other household members). You must not enter the house where you are collecting the dog. You should maintain at least 2m distance from all the household members and we strongly recommend that both you and they should wear a face covering.
  • Where possible, the dog should be left for collection (and on return) in an area where the owners (and other household members) are not present – eg in a yard/garden or garage, shed etc.
  • You should wipe the lead and collar with a sanitised wipe on collection and return.
  • You should remember to wash your hands before and after handling the dog and keep 2 metres away from other people and animals, including when handing over the dog to the owner.
  • You should make sure you have the dog under control at all times to reduce risk of incidents that could bring you into close contact with other people and it may be best to achieve this by keeping it on the lead.

I live in a flat. Can I take my rubbish out and collect my mail?

No. Rubbish should be disposed of by someone in your building not in self isolation.

I have a carer. Can they still visit me in a non-emergency?

If you are in need of care in your home then your carer can still visit you, however they must wear full PPE at all times, maintaining social distancing and good hand hygiene for the duration of the visit. You must advise your carer in advance of the visit that you are in self isolation. The carer will need to perform their risk assessment if employed by an agency/government.

Can I move back into shared accommodation after I have completed self-isolation?

You may move to a household where other people live after your period of self-isolation if this is your usual place of residence.

Can I visit my GP or any other healthcare centre during the isolation period? 

No. If you require regular medication, you must make arrangements to ensure this can be dropped off to you. You can contact your GP for telephone advice if required.

Can I go to hospital in an emergency? 

Yes, in the case of an emergency you must dial 999 and attend hospital if necessary. Please tell 999 you are self–isolating, if you can.

What happens if I test positive while in isolation?

If you test positive for COVID-19 you will receive:

Advice from clinicians at 111, which will include amended self-isolation period

Your contact details will be passed onto the Public Health Contact Tracing Service so they can contact you to identify any contact you have had with other persons that might be at risk of infection. Anyone identified in this way will be followed up and advised, to help prevent further spread of disease.

Take the example of 4 members of a household: A, B, C and D.

Household member A is what is called a high-risk contact (direct contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19).

Household member B, C and D are not direct contacts so do not need to be tested but need to isolate along with household member A, until household member A returns a negative test result. If household member A goes on to test positive, household members B, C and D must continue to isolate.

If household member A tests positive on any day during isolation whether he/she has symptoms or not, he/she becomes the new positive case and will need to extend his/her isolation period.

Household members B, C and D then become high risk contacts (direct contacts of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19) and they are required to isolate for a period of 21 days or 14 days with 2 negative tests, from the date of A’s positive test.

Someone I had contact with tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do?

There is a chance that you could become infected with COVID-19 but it depends on the nature of the contact you had with the person and where they were up to in the disease process at the time you were with them.

If you had prolonged and close contact whilst they had symptoms it is best if you stay at home to help stop any spread of infection.

You are not required to self-isolate until you are instructed to do so by the Contact Tracing Team. However please make sure that you are available in case you receive a call. The Contact Tracing Team will be interviewing and assessing the positive case to find close or high risk contacts and you might then be identified for a call. In the meantime, you should take any necessary precautions to keep your distance from others, including those within your household and practice good hand hygiene, while also keeping your surroundings clean. See guidance on stopping the spread of COVID-19 for more information. If you develop symptoms, at any time please use the online self-assessment and call 111 if advised to do so.

For those isolating separately from your household

I have an annex as part of my main house. Can I self–isolate in there without the rest of my household needing to isolate as well? Or can my household move into the annex and I isolate in the main house?

Yes, either way is acceptable. An annex is a building or part of a building which has been constructed or adapted for use as a separate living accommodation. This is acceptable to self-isolate in as long as it meets the following requirements:

It has a separate external door – it must be fully accessible from outside

Facilities within that do not need to be shared i.e. kitchen, bathroom

Any internal access must be able to be secured from within the annex

This also applies to a mobile static or temporary home which must remain at a fixed location for the period of the self-isolation, so long as waste disposal and water provisions can be met by the person in isolation.

I have a motorhome. Can I self-isolate in there away from my household? 

  • Yes, as long as it is fully self-contained as detailed above, and there is no requirement to share facilities.
  • You must ensure that waste disposal and the provision of fuel is undertaken by someone in your household.
  • The motorhome must remain in place for the duration of the period of self-isolation. 

If the motor home is parked on the property can I access the gardens and driveway? 

Yes as long you do not come into contact with anyone from your household at any time.

Can the motorhome be parked on the street?

If there is a driveway available then the motorhome should be parked there. If there is no driveway available then it must be parked in the street outside your home to ensure that waste disposal can be undertaken. All steps must be taken, when exiting the vehicle to exercise, to ensure that the area is clear of other passing pedestrians.

I have an ensuite in my house. Can I self–isolate in my bedroom without the rest of my household needing to isolate as well? (For those on 21 day pathway or positive tests only)

No. The alternative accommodation must be fully self-contained as described above. If this is not an option then hotel or self contained accommodation should be booked for the duration of isolation. There is no financial assistance available for this.

Can I self-isolate in a tent /horsebox/converted garage/shed in the garden?

No. The alternative accommodation must be fully self-contained as described above.