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Self-isolation rules

Self-isolate when you have a COVID-19 test, are diagnosed with COVID-19, or have been told you are a close or casual contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case.

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Self-isolation

Self-isolation means you must stay at your home or accommodation and remain separated from others. You can only leave to get medical care (such as a COVID-19 test) or in an emergency. You cannot have visitors. 

People have to self-isolate for different reasons. Read the information below for advice if you have been identified as needing to self-isolate.

For more information about how to self-isolate you can read the NSW Health Self-Isolation Guidelines. 


People with COVID 19 symptoms and self-isolation

Get tested immediately if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, even if mild and even if you are fully or partially vaccinated.

  • You do not need more than one symptom to get tested.
  • Do not wait for symptoms to progress or change.

Self-isolation

After your test you must self-isolate at your home or accommodation until you receive a negative result, even if you are fully or partially vaccinated. Do not visit any shops, people or anywhere else on the way to or from the testing clinic.

Most people in NSW get their test results within 24 hours, but please allow up to 72 hours.

Read the NSW Health advice for people with COVID-19 symptoms 

This advice will tell you   

  • how to travel to and from the testing clinic
  • how to safely self-isolate 
  • what to do if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 before
  • how to get support including obtaining food and essential supplies and mental health help.

NSW Health advice for people with COVID-19 symptoms


Casual contacts and self-isolation

 

Finding out if you are a casual contact 

There are several ways you may find out you are a casual contact, such as by

  • text or call from NSW Health
  • notification by your workplace or other organisation (such as school, university or child care centre)
  • looking at COVID-19 case locations to see if you have visited a place or travelled on public transport at the same time as a confirmed COVID-19 case

What you need to do

Self-isolate immediately

Self-isolate at your home or accommodation until you receive the first negative test result, even if you are vaccinated or feel well. 

Get tested for COVID-19

Get tested

  • as soon as possible, and
  • on day 6 after your last contact with the COVID-19 positive person.

If your first test is more than 4 days after your exposure to the person with COVID-19, you do not need to get the second test.

If you need to get the second test (day 6), you: 

  • do not need to self-isolate while you wait for the results if you feel well
  • must speak to your manager before returning to work if you work in a high risk setting (healthcare, aged care, disability care, early childhood, primary school and correctional facility).

Monitor for symptoms

You should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for at least 14 days after your last contact with a COVID-19 positive person.

If you develop symptoms at any time, self-isolate and get tested again immediately, even if you have already received a negative test result.

Read NSW Health advice for casual contacts 

This advice includes information on  

  • how to safely self-isolate 
  • what you need to do if your workplace has a surveillance testing program.

NSW Health advice for casual contacts


Close contacts and self-isolation

 

What is a close contact?

A close contact is someone who:

  • is likely to have come into contact with a person who has COVID-19 and
  • is at risk of developing COVID-19.

Finding out if you are a close contact 

There are several ways you may find out you are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case. You may:

  • get a text message or phone call from an authorised contact tracer from NSW Health or the Department of Education
  • see a location you have been to on the case locations webpage.

What you need to do

Self-isolation periods and testing requirements differ for close contacts based on their exposure and vaccination status. You may need to follow different advice if you are a household contact or another type of close contact.

Read the NSW Health advice for close contacts

This advice will tell you:   

  • when to get tested
  • how long to self-isolate for 
  • how to safely self-isolate (including if you live in an apartment building)
  • where to self-isolate 
  • what to do if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 before
  • how to get support including obtaining food and essential supplies and mental health help.

NSW Health advice for close contacts


People who are confirmed cases of COVID-19

 

Confirmed cases of COVID 19

If you have tested positive for COVID-19:

  • self-isolate in your home immediately
  • tell everyone who lives with you that they must self-isolate too
  • tell your work manager, place of education, household members, and people you have been in contact with in the 2 days before you got sick (or 2 days before your test if you have no symptoms) that you have tested positive for COVID-19 and ask them to get tested and self-isolate.

Contact your Local Health District clinical team, your doctor, or call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222 if you need health advice.  In an emergency call Triple Zero (000), for example if you are having trouble breathing or pain in your chest.

Finding out if you are a confirmed case of COVID-19

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted by SMS (text message) or phone. Please click on the survey link and help NSW Health by answering the questions as soon as you can.

What you need to do

Self-isolate immediately

All confirmed cases of COVID-19 must self-isolate at home for at least 14 days until medically cleared, even if you are fully vaccinated. You are not allowed to leave your home except for urgent medical care or in an emergency (including to avoid injury or escape risk of harm from domestic violence). Please see the Self-Isolation Guideline for further information.

Tell your close contacts you have tested positive

Tell your employer, place of education, household members, and people you have spent time with recently that you have tested positive for COVID-19. 

If you cannot tell your close contacts, employer or place of education that you have tested positive for COVID-19 or you feel it is not safe to do so, please call the NSW Health Isolation Support Line on 1800 943 553 for assistance.

Read the NSW Health advice for confirmed cases of COVID-19 

This advice will tell you  

  • what information to give to your close contacts 
  • how to safely self-isolate (including if you live in an apartment building)
  • where to self-isolate 
  • when you can leave self-isolation
  • how to find support including obtaining food and essential supplies and mental health help.

NSW Health advice for people with confirmed cases of COVID-19


Penalties for not self-isolating as directed

The self-isolation rules are enforceable under the Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order. Not following the rules is a criminal offence and attracts heavy penalties.

For individuals, the maximum penalty is $11,000, 6 months in prison, or both with a further $5,500 fine for each day the offence continues.

The NSW Police may also issue on-the-spot fines to individuals of:

  • $5000 for failure to comply with obligations to self-isolate if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, including staying at home or in hospital, as determined by a doctor, nurse or paramedic;  providing details of contact with other persons and places you have visited; and complying with NSW Health guidelines 
  • $5000 for failure to comply with obligations to self-isolate if you are a close contact of a person diagnosed with COVID-19, including staying at home up to 14 days, as determined by a doctor, nurse or paramedic; submitting to testing for COVID-19; and complying with NSW Health guidelines.
  • For corporations on-the-spot fines of $10,000 apply for failure to comply with obligations relating to self-isolation. 

Related apps

Service NSW App

Service NSW

You can check in to COVID Safe businesses who are using their NSW Government QR Code, via the Service NSW app.

 

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