Do I have to self-isolate or restrict my movements?

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illustration of a person on a balcony with their head in their hands as they self-isolate during covid-19

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, or you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, then you will need to avoid other people or going places as much as possible. This generally means self-isolating if you are positive for COVID-19, and restricting your movements if you are a close contact. However, whether or not you need to restrict your movements may depend on whether or not you are fully vaccinated or have had your booster shot.

Self-isolating and restricting your movements mean that you will need to avoid other people and avoid going places as much as possible.

Self-isolation

Restricting your movements

What does it mean to self-isolate?

Self-isolating means staying in your room, and avoiding contact with other people entirely. This includes avoiding contact with the people you live with. 

If you live with other people, it’s best to stay in a room on your own where you can open a window, if this is possible.

While self-isolating, try your best to follow these guidelines:

  • Stay at home, in a room with a window you can open
  • Keep away from other people – especially older people, anyone with a long-term medical condition
  • If you have not already been tested, phone your GP to arrange a test
  • Use a different bathroom to others in your household, if this is possible
  • If it is not possible to use a different bathroom, clean any surfaces you might have come into contact with after using it, and open the window
  • Use your own towel – do not share a towel with others
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes using a tissue – clean your hands properly afterwards
  • Wash your hands properly and often
  • Clean your room every day with a household cleaner or disinfectant

Who needs to self-isolate?

You will need to self-isolate if:

  • You have symptoms of COVID-19
  • You have had a positive antigen test result
  • If you have had a positive PCR test result for COVID-19, even if you have mild symptoms or no symptoms
  • If you are waiting for your test appointment, or you are waiting for the results of your test, and you have symptoms of COVID-19

How long do I need to self-isolate?

You will need to start self-isolating as soon as you notice any symptoms of COVID-19 or when you get a positive COVID-19 test result if you have no symptoms. This is considered ‘day zero’ when counting your days in isolation.

How long you will self-isolate for depends on whether you receive a positive or negative antigen test result. You will need to take three antigen tests over three days. Find out more about taking COVID-19 tests at home.

Negative antigen test result

If all three of your antigen tests are negative, you must continue to self-isolate until you have had no symptoms for 48 hours. You can report your negative antigen test result online after you have received three negative results.

Positive antigen test result

If your test result is positive, you will need to self-isolate for seven full days from ‘day zero’. You can end self-isolation after seven days if you have no symptoms or your symptoms are mostly gone.

If any of your antigen tests are positive, you will need to report your positive antigen test result online and provide your close contacts. You do not need to take any more antigen tests, and you don’t need to book a PCR test.

Finishing self-isolation after a positive antigen test

After finishing self isolation, you will need to take extra care for a further three days. This means avoiding crowded or enclosed spaces with poor ventilation or with little room for social distancing.

Over those three days after isolating, you should:

  • Limit your close contacts outside your household
  • Wear a face covering, preferably a medical mask or a respirator mask
  • Work from home if possible
  • Avoid contact with people who are at high-risk of severe illness from COVID-19
  • Take an antigen test if you must be in close contact with people or in a crowded or poorly ventilated space

What does it mean to restrict your movements?

If you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you may or may not be told to restrict your movements. This will depend on whether you have been vaccinated, have received a booster shot, or have had a positive PCR test in the previous three months.

When counting how many days you need to restrict your movements, start from when you were last in contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19. If you can’t remember when you last saw them, start from the day you received the close contact text message from the HSE.

This includes:

  • Not going to work, school or college
  • Not using public transport
  • Not having any visitors to your home
  • Not visiting other people
  • Not going to the shops or pharmacy unless absolutely necessary
  • Not going to any gatherings, including weddings and funerals
  • Not meeting face-to-face with anyone who is vulnerable to COVID-19, including older people, pregnant people, and those with a medical condition

Do I have to restrict my movements?

You may need to restrict your movements if you are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19. The guidelines around restricting your movements depend on whether you have been vaccinated, you have had a booster shot, or have had COVID-19 in the previous three months.

Who does not need to restrict their movements?

If you are a close contact with no symptoms and you fall into one of the categories below, then you will not need to restrict your movements:

  • You received a booster shot more than seven days ago
  • You have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past three months, and you received your first round of vaccinations

Receiving the first round of vaccinations means two doses of AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer or one dose of Janssen.

Although you do not need to restrict your movements, you will need to take three antigen tests over seven days. Find out more about the steps to take if you are a close contact.

Who does have to restrict their movements?

If you are a close contact with no symptoms and you fall into one of the categories below, then you must restrict your movements for a period of seven days:

  • You have had no COVID-19 vaccinations
  • You had a booster shot less than seven days ago
  • You tested positive more than three months ago (even if you have had your first round of vaccines)

If you fall into these categories, then you must restrict your movements for a period of seven days, starting from when you last saw the person who tested positive, if you know when this was, or else from the date you received the text from the HSE.

You will also need to take a number of antigen tests over seven days and log your results with the HSE. Find out more about taking antigen tests.

It is also recommended that you wear a medical or respirator mask when coming into contact with anyone over the 10 day period since you last saw the person who tested positive.

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