Skip to main content

How long to self-isolate

How long you need to self-isolate depends on if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) or you've been in close contact with someone who does.

If you have symptoms and have not had a test, stay at home and get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.

If you have symptoms or tested positive

Self-isolate for at least 10 days

You must self-isolate for at least 10 days if:

  • you have symptoms of coronavirus and you tested positive, had an unclear result or did not have a test
  • you tested positive but have not had symptoms

If you have symptoms, the 10 days starts from when they started.

If you have not had symptoms, the 10 days starts from when you had the test. But if you get symptoms after your test, self-isolate for a further 10 days from when your symptoms start.

Stop self-isolating after 10 days if you feel OK

You can stop self-isolating after 10 days if either:

  • you do not have any symptoms
  • you just have a cough or changes to your sense of smell or taste – these can last for weeks after the infection has gone

Keep self-isolating if you feel unwell

Keep self-isolating if you have any of these symptoms after 10 days:

  • a high temperature or feeling hot and shivery
  • a runny nose or sneezing
  • feeling or being sick
  • diarrhoea

Only stop self-isolating when these symptoms have gone.

If you have diarrhoea or you’re being sick, stay at home until 48 hours after they've stopped.

If you live with someone who has symptoms or tested positive

Self-isolate for 14 days

You must self-isolate for 14 days if you live with (or are in a support bubble with) someone who:

  • has symptoms of coronavirus and tested positive, had an unclear result or did not have a test
  • tested positive but has not had symptoms

This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear.

The 14 days starts from:

  • when the first person in your home or support bubble started having symptoms
  • the day they were tested, if they have not had symptoms – but if they get symptoms after they were tested, self-isolate for a further 14 days from when their symptoms start

Stop self-isolating after 14 days if you do not get symptoms

You can stop self-isolating after 14 days if you do not get any symptoms.

Keep self-isolating and get a test if you get symptoms

Get a test to check if you have coronavirus if you get symptoms while you're self-isolating.

If your test is negative, you must keep self-isolating for the rest of the 14 days.

If your test is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms started. This might mean you're self-isolating for longer than 14 days overall.

If you’ve been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app

Self-isolate for 14 days

Self-isolate for 14 days if either:

  • you get a text, email or call from NHS Test and Trace telling you to self-isolate
  • you get an alert from the NHS COVID-19 app telling you to self-isolate

This is because you've been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus and there's a chance you might have caught it.

You need to self-isolate for 14 days because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear.

Find out what to do if you've been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app.

Information:

Help and support while you're staying at home

While you're self-isolating:

  • you can get help with everyday tasks, like collecting shopping or medicines, from an NHS volunteer
  • you might be able to get sick pay or other types of financial support if you're not able to work

Find out about help and financial support while you're self-isolating.

Page last reviewed: 25 September 2020
Next review due: 2 October 2020