It is now illegal to leave coronavirus self-isolation in England, with offenders facing fines of up to £10,000.
If you test positive for Covid-19, it is a legal requirement to stay where you live and not leave, even for exercise or food, for 10 days from when your symptoms started.
The time period is different if your test took too long to be carried out or the results too long to come back. In these rare cases, the 10-day clock will begin five days before you had your test.
Meanwhile, the law states that you must now also self-isolate for 14 days if you come into contact with a positive Covid-19 case and are told to isolate by NHS Test and Trace.
The 14-day period begins when the person you had contact with first developed coronavirus symptoms.
As of last month, police can use “reasonable force” to move you back to your home if you leave it, and fine you £1,000 – rising to £2,000 for a second offence, £4,000 for a third offence and £10,000 for a fourth.
If you refuse to pay the fine, you will be taken to court where, if found guilty, you will get a criminal record and a larger fine.
But how and when do you self-isolate?
When to self-isolate
Self-isolate immediately if:
How to self-isolate
You must not leave your home if you’re self-isolating.
Do not go to work, school or public places – work from home if you can.
To make the rules absolutely clear, that means:
- 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
When to get a test
Get a test as soon as possible if you have any symptoms of coronavirus.
The symptoms are:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
The test needs to be done in the first 8 days of having symptoms.
You do not need to get a test if you have no symptoms or if you have different symptoms.
Tell people you’ve been in close contact with that you have symptoms
You may want to tell people you’ve been in close contact with in the past 48 hours that you might have coronavirus.
They do not need to self-isolate unless they’re contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service. But they should take extra care to follow social distancing advice including washing their hands often.
If they get any coronavirus symptoms, they must self-isolate and get a test as soon as possible.
How long to self-isolate for
If you have symptoms or have tested positive for coronavirus, you’ll usually need to self-isolate for at least 10 days.
You’ll usually need to self-isolate for 14 days if:
- someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive
- someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive
- you’ve been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
Help and support while you’re staying at home
While you’re self-isolating:
- you can get help with everyday tasks, like collecting shopping or medicines, from an NHS volunteer
- you might be able to get sick pay or other types of financial support if you’re not able to work
To find out about help and financial support while you’re self-isolating click here.
For more information about self-isolation go to the NHS site here.