What does self-isolating mean?

If you have been told to self-isolate, you need to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people for 14 days.

It is important to follow the advice for the whole period, even if you do not have any symptoms.


  • stay at home

  • separate yourself from other people – for example, try not to be in the same room as other people at the same time

  • only allow people who live with you to stay

  • stay in a well-ventilated room with a window that can be opened

  • ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands for you, such as getting groceries, medicines or other shopping

  • make sure you tell delivery drivers to leave items outside for collection if you order online

  • clean toilets and bathrooms regularly

  • think about a bathroom rota if a separate bathroom is not available, with the isolated person using the facilities last, before thoroughly cleaning the bathroom themselves

  • use separate towels from anyone else in the household

  • wash crockery and utensils thoroughly with soap and water; dishwashers may be used to clean crockery and cutlery

  • stay away from your pets – if unavoidable, wash your hands before and after contact


  • do not invite visitors to your home or allow visitors to enter

  • do not go to work, school or public areas

  • do not use public transport like buses, trains, tubes or taxis

  • do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding or other items with other people in your home

Living in shared accommodation

If you live in shared accommodation (for example, university halls of residence):

  • stay in your room with the door closed, only using communal kitchens, bathrooms and living areas when necessary
  • avoid using a shared kitchen while others are using it
  • take your meals back to your room to eat
  • use a dishwasher (if available) to clean and dry your used crockery and cutlery; if this is not possible, wash them by hand using detergent and warm water and dry them thoroughly, using a separate tea towel

What if I develop symptoms?

If you get a cough, a fever or shortness of breath, call NHS 111 and tell them you have been asked to self-isolate because of coronavirus.

Even if the symptoms seem mild, it is better to call for advice.

What to do about work or other responsibilities

During an outbreak, it is important to reduce the risk of further spread of the infection. This will require understanding and support from employers, family members and friends.

It can help to:

  • talk to those around you, including your employer, about the importance of self-isolation to reduce the risk of spreading infection at work; if you are well, you may be able to work from home
  • make plans with your family and friends on how to manage shopping, dropping children to schools and events
  • ask people not to visit your home while you're self-isolating; if you need a healthcare or care visit at home during this time, tell them in advance that you are self-isolating so they can follow their local employer's guidance

I am finding this hard, what should I do?

For some people self-isolation can be boring or frustrating. You may find your mood and feelings being affected and you may feel low, worried or have problems sleeping.

There are simple things you can do that may help, such as staying in touch with friends and relatives on the phone or by social media and you may find it helpful to talk to them, if you want to.

Read more about looking after your mental health and wellbeing.