Self-isolation for COVID-19


Self-isolation (staying in your room) means staying indoors and completely avoiding contact with other people. This includes people you live with. It is sometimes called self-quarantine.

You no longer need to restrict your movements if you are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, but you must self-isolate if you develop symptoms.

If you are at high risk from COVID-19, you should continue to follow public health advice to protect yourself from COVID-19 and use your own judgement to stay safe in public and crowded places.

When do I need to self isolate?

You need to self-isolate if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or you get a positive COVID-19 test result (PCR or antigen).

Do I need to get tested for COVID-19?

Many people no longer need to get tested. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should check if you need to take a test.

How long do I self-isolate for?

You should self-isolate as soon as you notice symptoms of COVID-19 or get a positive COVID-19 test result (PCR or antigen test).

If you get a positive PCR or antigen test, you need to self-isolate for 7 days from the date of your test or from when your symptoms started. Either of these are day zero when you’re counting your days of self-isolation. You can stop isolating after 7 days if you have had no symptoms for the last 48 hours.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 but did not get tested, you should immediately self-isolate and continue for 48 hours after your symptoms end.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, and you get a negative PCR or antigen test result, you should continue to self-isolate until you have not had any symptoms for 48 hours

If your child is aged under 12 and tests positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms, they need to isolate until both apply:

  • They have not had a high temperature or other symptoms for 48 hours
  • It’s been 7 days since they developed symptoms

Read about caring for children who test positive for COVID-19.

Close contacts without symptoms

If you are a close contact of somebody who has tested positive for COVID-19, look out for symptoms of COVID-19. Close contacts with no symptoms of COVID-19 do not need to self-isolate or restrict movements.

If you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, you do not need to test for COVID-19 unless you are a healthcare worker.

How to self-isolate

You should completely avoid contact with other people. You should also avoid:

  • Going outside unless you have your own outdoor space
  • Going to work, school, religious services or public areas
  • Sharing items
  • Using public transport or taxis
  • Inviting visitors to your home
  • Going to the shop or pharmacy

Visit for further information about how to self-isolate, including what to do if you are living with other people and what to do if you are living alone. You can also read about how to care for someone who is self-isolating.

If you have COVID-19 and have scheduled a COVID-19 vaccine or booster appointment, you should postpone this until after you have recovered. Check how long you should wait to get your vaccine after getting COVID-19.

You can read more about the supports available when you are restricting your movements or self-isolating and how to get tested for COVID-19.

What do I do after self-isolating?

When you stop self-isolating after 7 days, you need to take extra care for another 3 days to reduce the risk of passing on COVID-19.

You should:

You can stop isolating if you only have a mild cough or changes to your sense of smell – these can last for weeks after the infection has gone.

Caring for someone who cannot self-isolate

It's not possible to ask children aged under 12 to isolate on their own. They will need an adult to look after them. If you are caring for someone who cannot self-isolate, choose one person to look after the person isolating. This should be someone who is in good health, under 70 years and fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if possible.

The HSE website has more information about caring for someone who cannot self-isolate.

Page edited: 12 January 2023