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Check if you have to self-isolate because of coronavirus

This advice applies to England

Government guidance says you should stay at home and self-isolate if:

  • you have symptoms of coronavirus – you can check the symptoms of coronavirus on the NHS website
  • you test positive for coronavirus
  • you’re told by the NHS you've been in contact with someone with coronavirus - this includes getting a message or ‘ping’ from the NHS COVID-19 app
  • someone you live with has symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus

You don’t need to self-isolate just because someone you live with was told to self-isolate by the NHS.

The government guidance doesn't say you need to self-isolate just because you’ve been in contact with someone with coronavirus – unless you’re told to by the NHS. You should continue to keep at least 1 metre away from people who aren't members of your household.

If you’ve got symptoms and you haven’t already had a test, the guidance recommends you get one as soon as possible. You can apply for a coronavirus test on GOV.UK.

If your child has to self-isolate, you can choose if they will stay with you or with a friend or family member.

If you’re told by the NHS you’ve been in contact with someone with coronavirus

Check if the person you’ve been in contact with has the ‘Omicron variant’ of coronavirus. NHS Test and Trace should tell you if they have the Omicron variant.

If you’ve been in contact with someone with the Omicron variant, you always have to self-isolate.

If you’ve been in contact with someone with coronavirus that isn’t the Omicron variant, you might not have to self-isolate. You don’t have to self-isolate if either:

  • you’re under 18 and a half years old
  • you got your second vaccine dose from the NHS at least 14 days ago

The guidance says you should take a coronavirus test instead - you can get a coronavirus test on GOV.UK.  You must also have got your second vaccine dose from the NHS at least 14 days ago.

You still have to self-isolate if you have symptoms or test positive for coronavirus.

If someone you live with has symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus

If the person you live with has tested positive, ask if they’ve been told they have the ‘Omicron variant’ of coronavirus.

If the person you live with has tested positive for the Omicron variant, you always need to self-isolate.

If the person you live with hasn’t tested positive for the Omicron variant, you might not have to self-isolate. You don’t have to self-isolate if either:

  • you’re under 18
  • you got your second vaccine dose from the NHS at least 14 days ago

The guidance says you should take a coronavirus test instead - you can get a coronavirus test on GOV.UK.  You must also have got your second vaccine dose from the NHS at least 14 days ago.

You still have to self-isolate if you have symptoms or test positive for coronavirus.

If you’re entering the UK from abroad

You might have to self-isolate – this is sometimes called ‘quarantine’.

The rules are different if you have to quarantine. You can check if you have to quarantine and what you have to do.

If you don’t self-isolate when you should

You’re breaking the law if you don’t self-isolate when one of the following applies:

  • you test positive for coronavirus
  • you’re told by the NHS you’ve been in contact with someone with coronavirus – this doesn’t include getting a message or ‘ping’ from the NHS COVID-19 app

If you’re contacted by the NHS, check if they say the person you’ve been in contact with has the ‘Omicron variant’ of coronavirus.

If you’ve been in contact with someone with the Omicron variant, you have to self-isolate.

If you’ve been in contact with someone with coronavirus that isn’t the Omicron variant, you might not have to self-isolate. You don’t have to self-isolate if either:

  • you’re under 18 and a half years old
  • you got your second vaccine dose from the NHS at least 14 days ago

If you break the law, the police could fine you £1,000.  If you’ve been fined for not self-isolating before they can fine you up to £10,000.

Check how long you should self-isolate for

How long you should self-isolate for depends on why you’re self-isolating. If your situation changes, you might have to extend how long you self-isolate – for example, if you later test positive.

If the NHS tells you to self-isolate

You’ll have to stay at home for 10 days after you had contact with the person with coronavirus. The NHS will say when you can stop self-isolating.

You have to self-isolate for 10 days even if you test negative for coronavirus.

If you test positive for coronavirus

If you know when your symptoms began, you have to self-isolate until the later date out of:

  • 10 days after your symptoms began
  • 5 days after the test

If you don’t have symptoms or you don’t know when they began, you should self-isolate for 10 days after the test.

If you still have symptoms at the end of the period, you should self-isolate until your symptoms end. You can check what symptoms to look out for on the NHS website.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus but you haven’t tested positive

You have to self-isolate for 10 days after your symptoms began.

If you still have symptoms after 10 days, you have to self-isolate until your symptoms end. You can check what symptoms to look out for on the NHS website.

If you test negative for coronavirus you can stop self-isolating as long as:

  • you’re well
  • no-one you live with has symptoms – or they’ve also tested negative
  • you haven’t been told to self-isolate by the NHS

If someone you live with has symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus

You should self-isolate immediately.

You can stop self-isolating after 10 days, starting the day after the person you live with first had symptoms.

If you don't know when they first had symptoms, you can stop self-isolating after 10 days, starting the day after their test.

Check if you should extend how long you self-isolate

If you’re already self-isolating, you have to start your self-isolation period again if:

  • you get symptoms of coronavirus for the first time
  • you test positive for coronavirus
  • the NHS tells you to self-isolate
  • someone you live with gets symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus

You don’t have to extend your self-isolation period if you’re already self-isolating because you tested positive, and then someone else in your house gets symptoms or tests positive.

Check when you’re allowed to leave your home

You can only go out if you need to:

  • get basic things like food, medicine and pet supplies – if you can’t get them delivered
  • get help from a medical professional or a vet – contact them by phone first, if you can
  • use public services like the job centre or social services – contact them by phone first, if you can
  • go to the funeral of a close family member
  • avoid harm – for example if you’re at risk of domestic violence
  • do something the law says you have to – for example jury service
  • move to a new address if you can’t stay in your home

If you can’t work because you have to self-isolate

You can’t leave home to go work if the law says you have to self-isolate - for example if you test positive for coronavirus.

You must tell your employer if you have to self-isolate. If you’re an agency worker, tell your agency. It’s worth telling them in writing so you can prove it later.

The police can give you a £50 fine if you don’t tell your employer or agency. If you already work from home, you don’t have to tell them.

If your employer or agency knows you have to self-isolate but asks you to go to work anyway, tell them it’s against the law for them to ask you. The police can fine them £1,000 – or up to £10,000 if they’ve been fined for breaking the rules before.

If you’ve been pinged by the NHS app

Government guidance says you should self-isolate. You won’t break the law if you don’t self-isolate when pinged, but you risk spreading coronavirus to other people.

Check if your employer or agency has a policy that says you should tell them if you get pinged. You won’t break the law if you don’t tell them, but they might take disciplinary action against you.

Even if your employer or agency doesn’t have a policy, it’s a good idea to tell them and self-isolate so you don’t spread coronavirus to the people you work around.

If you only have to self-isolate because you’ve been pinged by the NHS app, your employer or agency won’t be fined for asking you to go to work. They still shouldn’t make you go to work if it’s not safe. If your employer tries to make you go to work, get help from an adviser.

If you’re worried about money because you can’t work

You might be able to get:

  • a self-isolation payment from your local council
  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from your employer
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) from the government

You can check what payments and benefits you can get if you have to self-isolate.

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