Do I have to self-isolate with COVID-19 symptoms?

Written by spunout


Self-isolating means staying in your room and completely avoiding contact with other people. Restricting your movements means limiting your contacts and staying at home as much as possible. 

Find out what to do if you are told you need to self-isolate or restrict your movements:


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
  • 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
  • Wear a medical or respirator mask if you have to be in the same room as someone else and for three days after leaving self isolation.

Who needs to self-isolate?

You will need to self-isolate if there is a high risk you could spread COVID-19 to other people.

There is a high risk you could spread COVID-19 if:

  • You have symptoms of COVID-19
  • 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 if I have symptoms?

You will need to start self-isolating as soon as you notice any symptoms of COVID-19. This is considered ‘day zero’ when counting your days in isolation.

You will need to self-isolate for seven days. You can stop after you have experienced no symptoms for 48 hours. It’s okay to stop self isolating if you still have a mild cough or if you are still experiencing changes to your sense of taste or smell, as these symptoms can linger for a few weeks. 

Self isolating after a positive antigen test result

If you do an antigen test and the 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 have been gone for 48 hours.

If any of your antigen tests are positive, you will need to report your positive antigen test result online and you may need to provide your close contacts

Currently, people are only required to list people they live with as close contacts if they:

  • Are a healthcare worker
  • Have a weak immune system (immunocompromised)
  • Have a high risk medical condition

You do not need to take any more antigen tests, and you don’t need to book a PCR test.

Ending self-isolation

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

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