Help for people self-isolating

Keeping yourself away from other people when you could be infectious is one of the most effective ways of stopping coronavirus.

This page provides help, support and further information for self-isolating.

If you feel unwell, test positive for coronavirus or are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to do so, it’s important to self-isolate immediately and for the full amount of time required. You shouldn’t leave home for any reason.

If you test positive for coronavirus, you must continue to self-isolate for at least 5 full days after the day you first felt unwell or the day of your test if you tested positive but did not have symptoms. 

You can end your self-isolation after 5 full days (ie, from the start of day 6) if:

  • you have two negative rapid (LFD) tests taken 24 hours apart, with the first test on at least the fifth full day of your self-isolation
  • you do not feel unwell (in particular with a high temperature)

You should continue to self-isolate if you have a high temperature or either of your rapid tests on days 6 or 7 give a positive result.

If you are told you have been close to someone with coronavirus and you are not fully vaccinated, you are legally required to self-isolate for 10 days.  The 10 days start from the day after the person started feeling unwell or they took their positive test.

Support is available to help you to self-isolate immediately and for the full amount of time required.

You’re not alone if you find self-isolating hard. Planning ahead, even before you have been told to self-isolate, can make things easier.

Read the latest stay at home guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (gov.uk)

1. Plan your days 

Calendar saying 10 days

Stay at home, away from other people immediately and for at least 5 days if you've tested positive, and for 10 full days if you are not fully vaccinated and told you have been close to someone with coronavirus.

Visit the NHS website to find out more about self-isolating or count your days using the NHS Covid-19 app.

During this time you also need to try and reduce the chances of spreading any infection to the people you live with.

How to avoid spreading coronavirus (COVID-19) to people you live with (NHS, opens in new window)

Order your COVID-19 rapid (LFD) tests (gov.uk, opens in new window) (you can also get tests free of charge from a local pharmacy or collection point - but if you are already self-isolating, ask friends or family to get them for you and safely drop them off)

2. Tell your work

A graphic drawing of coronavirus

Ask your employer about working from home or any sick leave or special leave options.

Get an isolation note for your employer (NHS, opens in new window)

You might otherwise be able to get Statutory Sick Pay, a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment or other financial help, including if you’re self-employed.

Find out more about financial support (Gov.uk, opens in new window)

3. Plan your money

An outheld hand with a pound sign on top of it

Check you have money to buy what you need and pay your rent and bills. Call the companies and explain your situation if not.

For further advice and possible support, please visit the Citizens Advice website (opens in new window)

4. Arrange food, medicines and essentials 

A bag containing medicine

Ask friends and family to safely drop-off anything you need. Many shops and pharmacies can help with deliveries too.

Find details about your local community hub, which can also help (opens in new window) or contact via SMS on 07860 022 876.

5. Continue your children's education

A woman and child walking

If your child tests positive for coronavirus or has symptoms, they must self-isolate.

Contact their school to ask for work to do at home and any free school meals to be delivered.

Your child(ren) can go to school as normal when someone else in the household is self-isolating, as long as they feel well and have not tested positive. But anyone who is self-isolating must not do the school run - you will need to ask someone else to do the drop offs and pick ups for you.

6. Get care for anyone who depends on you

If you’re a carer, ask friends or family to provide the care while you are self-isolating.

If no-one else can safely take this on, a local mutual aid group could help.

Find your nearest volunteer community (Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK, opens in new window)

7. Protect your mental health

Create a routine, keep busy, stay active, and speak to friends online or by phone.

For silent, confidential, 24/7 mental health support, text SHOUT 85258.

8. Keep moving at home

Staying active will boost your physical and mental health.

Get 30 minutes a day without leaving home.

For ideas and inspiration, visit the Greater Sport website (opens in new window)

9. Look after your pets

Check you have enough pet food and supplies.

If required, ask someone else to care for your animal(s) while you are self-isolating.

You shouldn’t leave your home to walk your dog.

Visit the PDSA website for more advice (opens in new window)

10. Get any other help you need

As well as your local community hub, NHS volunteer responders could help with all sorts of everyday tasks while self-isolating.

Find out more about NHS volunteer responders (NHS, opens in new window) 

Call 0808 196 3646 to arrange support for yourself or someone you know (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week).