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Guidance on self-isolating

Last Updated 3:36pm, 3 February 2021


Information about coronavirus is available in different formats and languages, including easy read, BSL and for people who are not online.

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.



  • 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.

Mental health

Physical health

  • 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.

Read more guidance from the NHS about how long to self-isolate.

Help and support if you're self-isolating

Staying at home can be difficult and frustrating but there is support available to help you.

NHS Volunteer Responders or mutual aid groups could help you with everyday tasks.

If you are worried or anxious, there are online resources that could help, including Every Mind Matters.

GOV.UK provides more advice about looking after your health and wellbeing.

Financial support

Find out what financial help there is available if you have to be off work and self-isolating.