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If you get pinged by the NHS COVID app

This advice applies to England

If you get a message or ‘ping’ from the NHS COVID-19 app, it means you’ve been in contact with someone with coronavirus.

Government guidance says you should stay at home and self-isolate. The people you live with don’t have to self-isolate just because you were pinged by the app.

You won’t have to self-isolate if you’re either:

  • under 18 and a half years old
  • fully vaccinated

The guidance says you should take a coronavirus test instead - you can get a coronavirus test on GOV.UK.

You’re fully vaccinated if you’ve had 2 doses of a coronavirus vaccine and at least 14 days have passed since you got the second dose. You must have got the doses in the UK.

Even if you should self-isolate, you might be able to go to work if your employer has registered you as a critical worker. Ask your employer if you’re not sure. You should:

  • still self-isolate outside of work
  • take a coronavirus test each day

If you don’t self-isolate when you should

If you get pinged and ignore the guidance, you might spread coronavirus to people around you. You can’t be fined or get a criminal record.

In some other situations you have to self-isolate - it’s against the law to break the rules. You might be fined or get a criminal record.

You can check if you have to self-isolate because:

  • you’ve got symptoms or tested positive for coronavirus
  • you’ve been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or your school

You can also check if you have to self-isolate because you’ve entered the country from abroad - this is sometimes called ‘quarantine’.

Check how long you should self-isolate for

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

You have to self-isolate for 10 days even if you test negative for coronavirus. The government have said that from 16 August 2021, you won’t have to self-isolate if you’re fully vaccinated and you don’t have symptoms or a positive test result.

Check if you need to extend how long you self-isolate

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

  • you get symptoms of coronavirus
  • you test positive for coronavirus
  • NHS Test and Trace or your school tells you to self-isolate
  • someone you live with gets symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus

If any of this happens, you can check how long you have to self-isolate.

Check when you’re allowed to leave your home

While you’re self-isolating, you should 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 Jobcentre 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

You shouldn’t leave your home to go to work.

Check if your employer or agency has a policy that says you should tell them if you get pinged. If you don’t tell them 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. It’s worth telling them in writing so you can prove it later.

Your employer or agency shouldn’t make you go to work if it’s not safe. If they try  to make you go to work, get help from an adviser.

If you’re worried about money

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

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

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