Covid-19 infections rates have seen an increase across the UK as winter approaches, forcing governments of the four devolved nations to tighten lockdown restrictions to help curb the spread.
The stricter measures have seen bans on household mixing indoors, limits on social gatherings and restrictions imposed on the hospitality sector, with pubs and bars forced to close in some of the worst affected parts of the country.
With infections climbing, it is hugely important to go and get tested if you experience any of the three main symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or loss of taste and smell), or if you have been in close contact with someone with a suspected infection.
Self-isolating in the event of a positive test, or exposure to someone who has tested positive, will help to prevent other people from picking up the infection.
But what do the rules say about what you can and cannot do if you need to quarantine. Here’s what you need to know.
When should I self-isolate?
Self-isolation means you should not leave your home because you have, or are suspected to have, coronavirus. You should enter a period of quarantine immediately if any of the following factor apply:
- You have one of the three main symptoms of coronavirus. These include a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- You have tested positive for coronavirus
- You live with someone who has symptoms or tested positive
- Someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive
- You have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
- You have arrived in the UK from a country with a high coronavirus risk that is not included on the UK government’s approved list of travel corridors
If you think you have been in contact with someone who has coronavirus, but you do not have symptoms and have not been told to self-isolate, you should continue to follow social distancing advice.
If you have a positive test result, you must continue to self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms started, or when your test was taken.
Those who live, or have been in close contact, with someone who has tested positive must self-isolate for 14 days, as you may have contracted the virus and could pass it on to others, even if you don’t have any symptoms.
The 14-day quarantine period begins from the day when the first person in your household developed symptoms, or from the day their test was taken.
Can I go out for a walk if I’m self-isolating?
If you are required to self-isolate, you should remain at home for the full quarantine period.
During this time, you should not:
- go to work, school, public areas - you should work from home if you can
- use public transport, including trains, buses, trams and taxis
- go out to buy food or other essentials - instead order it online, by phone, or ask someone to deliver it to your home
- have visitors in your home, including family or friends, except for people who are providing essential care
- go outside to exercise - this includes leaving your home to go for a walk. Instead, you should exercise within your home, garden or private outdoor space if you have one, but must not visit public spaces
What happens after the self-isolation period ends?
Once you have completed your self-isolation period, it is important to continue to wash your hands regularly, wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces, and maintain social distancing from people outside your household.
If you have tested positive for Covid-19, you will likely have developed some immunity to the disease, although this is not guaranteed, nor is it known how long this will last.
It is possible for tests to detect residue of the virus for some time after being infected. As such, anyone who has previously tested positive for Covid-19 should only be re-tested within a 90-day period if any new symptoms of the virus develop.