Last Updated 3:36pm, 3 February 2021
When to self-isolate
It’s essential that you follow the guidance about when to self-isolate.
Self-isolating means that you must stay at home. No work, no school, no visiting other public areas. Don’t use public transport. Avoid visitors to your home. Ask friends or family to help with the things you need doing, like shopping or running errands for you.
Identifying cases, and the people they may have had contact with, and preventing them from spreading the virus to others is one of the key weapons we have to prevent outbreaks and protect the NHS.
Prepare for self-isolation
The following information highlights some of the most important things to think about and be prepared for, in the event of you being required to self-isolate.
Food and essentials
- Check you have enough food and essentials.
- Think about who could shop for you if you have to isolate and ask them if they will be able to help.
- Check you have money to buy what you need – remember that cash might not be very useful if you are isolating and cannot go to the shops.
- Check you can pay your rent and bills. If not, call the companies and explain your situation.
- Ask your boss about sick pay.
- If you need to, get an isolation note.
- Contact the school to arrange for free school meals to be delivered home, and ask for school work.
- Ask friends or family to provide care for dependents.
- Contact Devon Carers if you need more help.
- Be mindful of your mental health. Create a routine, keep busy, stay active, and speak to friends. Ask for help if you need it.
- Read our advice on emotional wellbeing as well as this mental health and wellbeing guidance from the government.
- Think about how you can keep fit indoors.
- Change the dates of routine appointments.
- Contact your GP or pharmacy to arrange for your prescription to be delivered or ask someone to collect it for you.
- Check you have enough pet food and supplies.
- If required, ask someone else to care for your animal(s) while you are isolating.
How long to self-isolate
If you’ve got any of the symptoms, you must self-isolate straight away and for 10 days. Don’t wait for your test result.
If you don’t have symptoms but you’re told to self-isolate, you must do so for 10 days. If someone in your house has the virus, you need to continue to self-isolate for 10 days from the day that person first developed symptoms.
It’s that long because you are at risk of developing COVID-19 for the full 10 days.
Just because you’ve had a negative test still does not mean that you can stop self-isolating early, because you could still put other people at risk of catching it. It’s very clear.
Many people are able to make plans with friends or family to see them through, but there is help for self-isolaters who don’t have others to call.
Help and support if you're self-isolating
Staying at home can be difficult and frustrating but there is support available to help you.
GOV.UK provides more advice about looking after your health and wellbeing.
Find out what financial help there is available if you have to be off work and self-isolating.