When to self-isolate and what to do
Self-isolation is essential to stop the spread of coronavirus. Self-isolating means staying at home. You should not go to work, school, college or university, or go to shops or other public places. You must not use public transport or taxis, or even go for a walk.
Self-isolation is different to lockdown. It is a legal requirement to self-isolate when you are told to do so, whether the local area is in lockdown or not. Self-isolation becomes increasingly important to stop the virus spreading and to support our return to normal living.
Around 1 in 5 people who have been in close contact with an infected person will go on to have coronavirus themselves. Self-isolation stops you from passing on the virus to your loved ones, the people you work with, your neighbours and your community.
Help to self-isolate
There is lots of support available if you need to self-isolate. You can get priority delivery slots for food shopping, with some shops able to deliver within a few hours.
If you’re on a low income and cannot work while self-isolating (or while caring for a child who has to self-isolate), you may be able to get a government payment of £500. Find out more and apply online. If you are unable to work from home speak to your employer about sick pay; if you cannot get sick pay from your employer, you might be able to get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or another type of financial support. Find out more at GOV.UK - sick pay.
If you feel lonely or sad at home, some organisations offer a friendly chat by phone.
How to get help
NHS Volunteer Responders can help collecting shopping, medicine or other essential supplies, or just for someone to talk to. Call them free on 0808 1963646.
If you cannot get help from relatives, friends, neighbours or these voluntary groups, please let us know by submitting a request for support form.
Prepare in advance
Any of us could be asked to self-isolate at any time. It’s good to prepare for this in advance. If you can, stock up on a few long-life essentials. If you’ve never tried online shopping before, give it a go before you need to. Ask friends and neighbours if they would be able to fetch food or urgent medication if you ever did need to isolate. Keep a note of their phone numbers so that you can contact them easily.
Returning from overseas
Get the latest government guidelines when returning to England from abroad:
Further information on what to expect when quarantining can be found at GOV.UK.
If you are concerned about being able to pay for your stay, you can seek advice from:
• DWP Income Support: 0800 328 5644
• Citizens Advice Bureau: 0800 144 8848
• Money Advice Service: 0800 138 7777
You may be able to arrange a deferred payment plan: call the Corporate Travel Management helpline on 0207 429 9983.
Self-isolation is key to stopping the spread of the virus. Around 1 in 3 people who have the virus do not have any symptoms. By minimising your contact with other people you reduce the chance of passing it on.
It is enforceable by law – if you do not self-isolate when you need to, you could be fined up to £10,000.
Further guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus infection can be found at GOV.UK - stay at home guidance.
You must self-isolate if:
- You have symptoms of coronavirus (10 days from the start of symptoms)
- You have tested positive for coronavirus (10 days from the positive test results or the start of symptoms)
- You are waiting for the results of a coronavirus test (10 days from the start of symptoms)
- You live with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus (10 days from the start of their symptoms)*
- You live with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (10 days from the positive test results or the start of symptoms)*
- You live with someone who is waiting for the results of a coronavirus test (10 days from the positive test results or the start of symptoms)*
- You have returned to England from overseas (except Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man). Please see full government guidance on quarantine period after arriving from abroad.
You must not leave your home for any reason, except in an emergency.
You must not:
- go to work, university, college or school – you must work or study from home (if you can)
- go shopping for any reason
- go outside to exercise
- visit family or friends
- use public transport, taxis or share a car
Try and isolate from people that you live with; this is especially important in houses where lots of people live together.
In order to further prevent the spread of the virus, you should make sure your house is thoroughly and regularly cleaned and wash towels and clothes regularly.