How and when to self-isolate

How and when to self isolate

What is self- isolation?

Self-isolation is when you do not leave your home because you have symptoms, have tested positive, or have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. This helps stop the virus spreading to other people.

Self-Isolation is one of the most powerful tools we have against the spread of COVID-19. It is the best way that we as individuals can work together to reduce the spread of the virus and protect our loved ones.

If you are required to self-isolate, you may be eligible for financial support, or other forms of support available.

When you should self-isolate

You must self-isolate immediately if:

  • you have any symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)

  • you've tested positive for COVID-19 – this means you have the virus

  • you live with someone who has symptoms or tested positive

  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive

  • You’ve recently come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 or you're told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace

  • you arrive in the UK from a country with a high coronavirus risk – see GOV.UK: how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK

How to self-isolate

You must not leave your home if you're self-isolating.

  • do not go to work, school or public places 

  • do not go on public transport or use taxis

  • do not go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home

  • do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care

  • do not go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one

If you have symptoms of COVID-19

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 however mild, you must self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started.

If you live with others, all other household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 10 days. The 10-day period starts from the day when the first person in the household became ill or if they do not have symptoms, from the day their test was taken.

You can book a test by visiting the NHS website or calling 119.

If you test positive for COVID-19

If you test positive for COVID-19 you will be legally obliged to self-isolate for a period ending 10 days after the onset of symptoms or, if you did not have symptoms when you were tested, 10 days after the date of the test. Your isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day your test was taken if you do not have symptoms), and the next 10 full days.

Other members of your household will be legally obliged to self-isolate for a period ending 10 days after the first day of the onset of your symptoms (or, if you were asymptomatic, after the date of the test). 

If you have contact with someone with symptoms or a positive test

Non-household contacts will be legally obliged to self-isolate for the period notified to them by NHS Test and Trace (the period ending 10 days after their most recent exposure to the person who has tested positive).

It is now a legal obligation of employers that they must not knowingly enable or encourage their employees to break the law on self-isolation.

Penalties for failing to self-isolate

Penalties are now in place for those breaking the rules on self-isolation, including fines on a sliding scale from £1,000 up to a maximum of £10,000 for multiple breaches.

If you need support to self-isolate, please read the information about the Test and Trace Support Payment and our ‘How to ask for help’ webpage.