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Self-isolation rules

What you must do if you are required to self-isolate, or you have been tested for or diagnosed with COVID-19, or been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment NSW

Support if you live in NSW and can't earn an income because you must self-isolate or quarantine at home, or you are caring for someone with COVID-19. 

To be eligible for the payment you must be directed to self-isolate or quarantine by NSW Health.

Apply for the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment NSW

Mandatory quarantine

People entering NSW from Victoria and all international travellers arriving in NSW are required to enter mandatory quarantine. A quarantine accommodation fee applies. 

Read about mandatory quarantine

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When you must self-isolate

You must self-isolate if you have:

To help answer your questions about travelling to NSW from Victoria, see the guide to border restrictions

Close contacts

You need to isolate yourself in your home or another suitable place of residence if you have been identified as a close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection.  

A close contact is someone who has been near enough to a person with COVID-19 while they were infectious that there is a reasonable chance they will have become infected with COVID-19. Close contact can occur in a number of places including in the home, or at other venues.

Casual contacts

A casual contact is someone who has been near a confirmed case of COVID-19 while they were infectious but is considered at lower risk than a close contact. They should still be vigilant and watch for symptoms but casual contacts are not required to self-isolate in their homes unless they develop symptoms.

Settings for casual contact may include healthcare workers, other patients, or visitors who were in the same closed healthcare space as a case, but for shorter periods than those required for a close contact. Other closed settings might include schools or offices.

NSW Health assess settings and interactions to determine the level of risk, this may change as further information becomes available. If you have been reassessed as a close contact you will need to isolate as per the close contact guidelines.

Contact tracers

An authorised contact tracer is a NSW Health worker who investigates COVID-19 to identify and follow up people who have had contact with someone with COVID-19.

Learn more about NSW Health contact tracing plan.

While some people who are confirmed to have COVID-19 infection will need to be managed in hospital, most people will have mild illness and can be managed at home in isolation.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, your release from isolation will depend upon whether your illness was managed at home, in a hospital or a combination of both.

For most people, release from isolation will be based on clinical features, such as duration of illness and time elapsed since resolution of all symptoms.

If you have been confirmed to have COVID-19 infection, follow NSW Health self-isolation guidelines.

If your child has received a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 your child must self-isolate at home and must not go to school or childcare. As much as possible, separate your child from others in the home by following NSW Health self-isolation guidelines for people confirmed to have COVID 19 infection.

For more information see NSW Health advice for parents and carers.

If you are required to self-isolate, then you must comply with the relevant NSW Health COVID-19 self isolation guidelines and information during your self-isolation and stay in self-isolation for the number of days required.

If you

  • have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you must self-isolate until your doctor has confirmed:
    • at least 10 days have passed since the onset of symptoms and
    • there have been no symptoms of the acute illness for the previous 72 hours
  • are suspected of having COVID-19, you must self-isolate until you receive a negative test result. Usually this is within 24 to 72 hours, If your test result is positive, you must comply with the self-isolation requirements for confirmed cases
  • had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, you must self-isolate for 14 days after you last saw the person
  • you have already been advised to stay in home isolation because of recent overseas travel
  • you have been in Victoria in the past 14 days, you must self-isolate for 14 days after you were last in Victoria.

If the test is negative, you do not need to remain in isolation unless

  • you are within the 14 days isolation period after recent travel overseas or to Victoria, in which case you need to remain isolated until the 14 day isolation period is complete.
  • you are a close contact of a person, and you are within the 14 day isolation period after your last contact with that person, in which case you need to remain isolated until the 14 day isolation period is complete.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, an authorised health worker will determine whether you can remain at the place where you are self-isolating or may direct you to a hospital for further assessment.

People identified as close contacts should travel directly to the place where they will undertake their self-isolation (home or a hotel). They can travel by private car, public transport, taxi or ride-share, provided that they are well.

People who have been in Victoria in the previous 14 should travel directly to the place where they will undertake their self-isolation (home or a hotel).

If you have arrived in NSW from overseas, you will be transported from the airport to a designated accommodation facility for quarantine.

Closely follow all NSW Health advice about physical distancing and personal hygiene to minimise the risk of spreading the disease.

If you are sharing your home or accommodation with others you should, as much as possible:

  • remain separated from others
  • wear a surgical mask when you are in the same room as another person
  • use a separate bathroom, if available
  • avoid shared or communal areas and wear a surgical mask when moving through these areas
  • not share a room with people who are at risk of severe disease, such as elderly people, immuno-compromised people, and those who have heart, lung or kidney conditions, and diabetes.

Find further information about isolation advice for parents and children.

There should only be people in the home who are essential for providing care for the person who is in isolation and those who cannot find alternative accommodation.

Caregivers and household members should follow advice to reduce their risk of infection.

Leaving or ending self-isolation

Home isolation for close contacts is enforceable under the Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order (No 3) 2020.

In addition to self-isolating for 14 days, all close contacts should get tested as soon as possible after learning they are a close contact of someone infected with COVID-19.

Close contacts sharing a household with the infected person, and other close social contacts identified by the person, should have an additional COVID-19 test on day 10-12 of the 14-day isolation period. They must wait until they have a negative test result and the 14-day isolation period is complete before leaving isolation.

If you develop symptoms during the isolation period, you must be assessed and tested again for COVID-19.

If your illness was managed in isolation at home you can leave isolation once your doctor has confirmed:

  • at least 10 days have passed since the onset of symptoms; and
  • there have been no symptoms of the acute illness for the previous 72 hours

If your illness was managed in hospital and you have been discharged to home isolation, you can be released from isolation once your doctor has confirmed:

  • at least 10 days have passed since hospital discharge; and
  • there have been no symptoms of the acute illness for the previous 72 hours

If your illness was managed in hospital and you are being discharged after you have had two consecutive negative COVID-19 PCR swabs collected at least 24 hours apart, at least 7 days from symptom onset, you can be released from isolation.

Once you are no longer in isolation you should continue to practice hand hygiene, cough etiquette and physical distancing.

People who need to present to an emergency department or general practice for medical consultations and treatment can do so, but should, where feasible, inform staff before arrival if they have recently been released from isolation.

Common questions about self-isolation

Anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 must self-isolate until cleared of the disease.

You self-isolate at your residence or a place determined to be suitable by your doctor or other designated health practitioner, such as a registered nurse or paramedic. In some cases, this may be the hospital.

You have to supply these details so NSW Health can determine whether your condition is worsening and if so, guide you to your nearest hospital and ensure they are prepared for you. 

In addition, the information you provide is critical to protecting your loved ones and your broader community during the pandemic. 

No. You must immediately take the most direct route home. COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease. If you need help getting food, medicine or other essential goods and services, Service NSW can assist.

You can only leave your home for the following reasons:

  • in an emergency
  • to obtain medical care or medical supplies.

No. You may not allow anyone to enter the place where you are self-isolating unless the person:

  • normally lives there
  • is also complying with a direction under the public health order
  • is entering for medical or emergency purposes
  • is delivering food or other essential items. 

Members of your family are considered close contacts and must also self-isolate. 

Yes. An authorised NSW Health contact tracer will determine your close contacts and direct them to go directly home – or to another place deemed suitable by the contact tracer – to self-isolate. 

Yes. These restrictions apply to anyone required to self-isolate under the Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order (No 3) 2020 and aim to eventually halt community transmission of COVID-19.

The Minister of Health may exempt a person if the Minister is satisfied the exemption is necessary to protect the health and wellbeing of any member of the public. 

Contact Service NSW on 13 77 88 to discuss your situation with the COVID-19 hotline.
 

Report someone who is not self-isolating

Report any person failing to follow these rules to Crime Stoppers.

NSW Police may issue a penalty notice of $1000 to someone who is not complying with the Public Health Orders.

Not following these rules is also a criminal offence and attracts heavy penalties.

  • Individuals: the maximum court imposable penalty is $11,000, or imprisonment for 6 months, or both with a further $5500 for each day the offence continues.
  • Corporation: the maximum court imposable penalty is $55,000 with a further $27,500 for each day the offence continues.

Domestic and family violence support

Find out what to do if it's not safe for you to stay at home and the services and support available to you

Last updated: 7 September 2020

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