What to do if you're told to stay at home (self-isolate) by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app because you've been in contact with someone with coronavirus (COVID-19).
It’s a legal requirement to self-isolate if you’re told to by NHS Test and Trace. You could be fined if you do not do this.
When you do not need to self-isolate
NHS Test and Trace and the NHS COVID-19 app will check whether you need to self-isolate because you’ve been in contact with someone with COVID-19.
You do not need to self-isolate if any of the following apply:
- you're fully vaccinated – this means 14 days have passed since your final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine
- you're under 18 years old
- you're taking part or have taken part in an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
- you're not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons
Even if you do not have to self-isolate, you are strongly advised to:
- do daily rapid lateral flow tests (1 a day for 7 days), if you're fully vaccinated, to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 – find out more about daily testing on GOV.UK
- follow advice on how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19
- consider limiting contact with people who are at higher risk from COVID-19
What to do if you're told to self-isolate
If you're told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app because you've been in contact with someone who has COVID-19:
- self-isolate straight away and get a PCR test on GOV.UK as soon as possible – only leave your home to get a test
- try to avoid contact with anyone you live with as much as possible
do not go to work, school or public places
do not go on public transport or use taxis
do not go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home
do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care
do not go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one
work from home if you can and are well enough – this helps reduce the number of people you have contact with
If you do not have symptoms, people you live with do not need to self-isolate. They should still take extra care to follow advice on how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19.
When you can leave your home while self-isolating
You can temporarily leave self-isolation to:
- post a PCR test or antibody test at a Royal Mail priority postbox
- get food or medicine if you cannot order it online or by phone, or you cannot ask someone to bring it to your home
- get urgent health services for you, your family and pets
- avoid harm, for example, if there is a fire or you are at risk of domestic abuse
- access services as a victim of crime, for example, if there has been a burglary
- help someone who is pregnant to go to a medical appointment, or to give birth
- go to the funeral of a close family member or friend
- meet legal duties such as going to court, taking part in court proceedings, or following bail conditions
- take part in NHS COVID-19 research, but only if you're asked to leave self-isolation
You should take extra care to follow advice on how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19 while you have temporarily left self-isolation.
What to do if you get symptoms of COVID-19
Get a PCR test as soon as possible if you get COVID-19 symptoms while you're self-isolating.
If you were told you do not have to self-isolate but you develop COVID-19 symptoms, get a PCR test as soon as possible and stay at home until you get the result.
Follow advice on how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19.
What to do when you get your test result
If you test negative:
- keep self-isolating for the rest of the 10 days (if you were told you need to self-isolate)
- anyone you live with who is self-isolating can stop self-isolating if they do not have symptoms
If you test positive:
- you must self-isolate for 10 full days, counting from the day after your symptoms started, or the day after your PCR test if you did not have symptoms
- you may also be able to leave self-isolation after 5 full days if certain conditions are met – read more about how long to self-isolate
- check if people you live with need to self-isolate
How you'll be contacted
If you've been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you may get:
- an email, text or phone call from NHS Test and Trace – text messages will come from NHStracing and calls will come from 0300 0135 000
- an alert from the NHS COVID-19 app
Children under 18 will be contacted by phone wherever possible and asked for their parent or guardian's permission to continue the call.
You'll be asked to sign in to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing website at https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk.
If you cannot use the contact tracing website, they will call you.
NHS Test and Trace will not:
- ask for bank details or payments
- ask for details of any other accounts, such as social media
- ask you to set up a password or PIN number over the phone
- ask you to call a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087