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Self-isolation and self-quarantine

Self-isolation and self-quarantine

To help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) you may need to either:

The difference between self-isolation and self-quarantine


Self-quarantine means avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible.

You will need to do this if you are a close contact of a confirmed case of coronavirus and you are still well.

Self-quarantine is to stop other people from getting coronavirus.


Self-isolation means staying indoors and completely avoiding contact with other people. You may need to do this if you have symptoms of coronavirus. This is to stop other people from getting it.

You may need to self-isolate:

  • before you get tested for coronavirus
  • while you wait for test results
  • if you have had a positive test result for coronavirus

How to self-quarantine

If you are well, but you have been in close contact with a case of coronavirus you may need to self-quarantine. This is to stop other people from getting it if you develop symptoms.

Self-quarantine means avoiding contact with other people as much as possible by staying at home or in your hotel.

You can still go outside for walks, runs or cycles on your own. But you should not spend time in close contact with other people.

Other household members do not need to restrict their activities unless they are told to.


Do not go to school, college or work.

Do not use public transport.

Do not go to meetings, social gatherings, group events or crowded places.

Do not have visitors at your home.

Do not go shopping – where possible, order your groceries online or have some family or friends drop them off.

Do not contact older people, people with chronic health problems and pregnant women.

Do not travel outside or within Ireland.

How to self-isolate

You may need to self-isolate if you have coronavirus or may have coronavirus. This could be before you get tested for coronavirus, while you wait for test results or when a positive result is confirmed.

Most people with coronavirus will only have mild symptoms and will get well within weeks. Even though the symptoms are mild, you can still spread the virus to others.

If you have to self-isolate, stay indoors and avoid contact with other people.


Stay at home, in a room with the window open.

Keep away from others in your home as much as you can.

Check your symptoms – call a doctor if they get worse.

Phone your doctor if you need to – do not visit them.

Cover your coughs and sneezes using a tissue – clean your hands properly afterwards.

Wash your hands properly and often.

Use your own towel – do not share a towel with others.

Clean your room every day with a household cleaner or disinfectant.


Do not go to work, school, religious services or public areas.

Do not share your things.

Do not use public transport or taxis.

Do not invite visitors to your home.

Keep away from older people, anyone with long-term medical conditions and pregnant women.

It’s OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food or supplies. Make sure you’re not in the same room as them, when they do.

If you live with other people

Stay in a room with a window you can open.

If you can, use a toilet and bathroom that no one else in the house uses.

If you have to share a bathroom with others, use the bathroom last and then clean it thoroughly.

Do not share any items you’ve used with other people.

These include:

  • dishes
  • drinking glasses
  • cups
  • eating utensils
  • towels
  • bedding


If possible, have someone leave your food on a tray at your bedroom door.

When you have finished, leave everything on the tray at the door.

This should be collected and put in a dishwasher and hands washed properly afterwards.

If you don’t have a dishwasher:

  • wash in hot soapy water, wearing rubber gloves
  • leave to air dry
  • wash the rubber gloves while you are still wearing them
  • remove gloves and wash your hands

Face masks

You may have to go into the same room with other people while you are self-isolating. If you do, wash your hands and wear a face mask if you have one. If you don’t have a face mask, stay at least 1 metre away from other people. 

If possible, anyone in a room with you should also wear a face mask. Do not touch the front of the mask when you are taking it off. Clean your hands with gel or wash them with soap and water after you take it off.

You do not need to wear a face mask when there is no one else in the room with you.

Wash your hands often

Wash your hands properly and often with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand rub.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze.

Put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands.

Use a detergent or disinfectant to clean your home

Many cleaning and disinfectant products sold in supermarkets can kill coronavirus on surfaces.

Clean the surface as usual with a detergent, disinfectant or disinfectant wipe.

This includes: 

  • counters
  • table-tops
  • doorknobs
  • bathroom fixtures
  • toilets and toilet handles
  • phones
  • keyboards
  • tablets
  • bedside tables

If you have them, wear rubber gloves when cleaning surfaces, clothing or bedding. Wash the gloves while still wearing them, then clean your hands after you take them off.


Put your laundry in a plastic bag. Have someone collect it from your bedroom door. If possible, they should wear rubber gloves. 

They should:

  • wash the laundry at the highest temperature for the material, with a laundry detergent
  • clean all surfaces and the area around the washing machine
  • wash the rubber gloves while still wearing them
  • wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after removing the gloves

If possible tumble dry and iron using a hot setting or steam iron.

Do not take laundry to a launderette.

Managing rubbish

Put all the waste that you have used, including tissues and masks, in a plastic rubbish bag. Tie the bag when it is about three-quarters full. Place the plastic bag in a second bin bag and tie the bag.

Treat all cleaning waste in the same way.

Do not put the rubbish bags out for collection for 72 hours. After that, the bags can be put out for collection in regular domestic waste.

Caring for a child or someone else in self-isolation

You may be caring for a child, family member or someone who needs support while they are in self-isolation. If you are, follow the advice above.

You should also:

  • stay away from them as much as possible (at least 1 metre) and avoid touching them – use your phone to communicate
  • wash your hands properly every time you have contact with the person
  • if you have face masks, wear one and have them one when you have to be in the same room
  • if you have to clean phlegm or spit from their face use a clean tissue, put it into a waste bag and wash your hands
  • put them in a well-ventilated room alone
  • limit their movement in the house
  • get them to use a different toilet if possible
  • limit the number of caregivers
  • keep them away from older people, people with long-term conditions or pregnant women

If possible, only one person should look after the person self-isolating. Ideally, this would be someone who is in good health.

Keeping well during self-isolation

Keep yourself mobile by getting up and moving around as much as possible. If you have a garden or backyard go out and get some fresh air, but keep more than 1 metre away from other people.

Self-isolation can be boring or frustrating. It may affect your mood and feelings. You may feel low, worried or have problems sleeping. 

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