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How to self-isolate

You need to self-isolate immediately if you have tested positive for coronavirus or have symptoms.

If you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive, even if you don’t have symptoms, you should book a PCR test

Changes from Monday 16 August

If you have received both doses of a vaccine in the UK vaccination programme at least 14 days before contact with a positive case, or are aged under 18, and have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive or have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace, you should take a PCR test to check if you have the virus and for variants of concern.

You do not need to self-isolate while you wait for the test result, but it is recommended that you follow COVID precautions, such as wearing a face covering and regular hand washing.

If the test comes back negative, you do not need to self-isolate but you are encouraged to take a twice weekly lateral flow test.

Anyone who tests positive following the PCR test is still legally required to self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status or age. This is in order to break onwards chains of transmission.

Meanwhile anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate and get a PCR test. They should remain in isolation until the result comes back.

If you have not received both doses of the vaccine you need to self-isolate for 10 days. You will be advised to get a PCR test and will need to self-isolate for 10 days whether the results are negative or positive.

We know that self-isolating is hard, but it is very important you comply with the rules to prevent others from getting ill, especially the ones you love. If you don’t self-isolate when you should, you will be breaking the law and could face a large fine.

When to self-isolate

You need to self-isolate immediately if:

If you are notified by your child’s school, college, university, or early years setting that they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive, they need to follow the guidelines on self-isolation. However, other members of the household can continue as normal and only need to self-isolate if the child starts to show symptoms of COVID-19.

How to self-isolate

What you can and cannot do

Be prepared in case you need to self-isolate

You might not get much notice that you need to self-isolate, especially if you’re contacted by NHS Test and Trace or the COVID-19 app.

As soon as you know you need to self-isolate you must stay at home. Don’t be tempted to pop out to the shops to stock up on food and essentials for the next 10 days.

It’s a good idea to plan ahead and make sure you already have essential items at home. It might be a few days before you can get supplies from friends, family, or local support services.

Self-isolation checklist

How to keep others safe at home

If you’re self-isolating it’s important to do what you can to help protect others at home from coronavirus. Here are a few simple things you can do:

  • keep shared spaces like the bathroom and kitchen clean using normal household products
  • regularly clean things people touch the most such as taps, worktops, tables, door handles, light switches, and handrails
  • wash your hands regularly with soap and water
  • don’t share towels, including hand towels and tea towels
  • cover coughs and sneezes and bin tissues quickly
  • air the house and open windows when you can, coronavirus doesn’t spread as quickly in well-ventilated spaces
  • limit close contact with others at home as much as possible

If you live in shared or overcrowded accommodation, there is guidance about how you can reduce the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.

Getting help

There is help at hand if you’re worried about self-isolating, if you need help getting essentials like food or medicine, or if self-isolating will cause financial difficulty.

Essential help

If you do not have support available from friends or family, the Bracknell Forest Community Response is available 7 days a week to help with things like:

  • food shopping
  • collecting prescriptions
  • dog walking
  • information and advice

Contact the Bracknell Forest Community Response by:

Help with money and work

If you have to self-isolate and you’re worried about whether you will get paid while you’re away from work, you can:

Help with mental wellbeing

Self-isolating isn’t easy and can be lonely. If you’re struggling to cope, having difficulty sleeping, or managing stress, you’re not alone.

Our Public Health Portal has advice on how to protect your mental wellbeing as well as advice for parents and carers of young people.

Whatever you are going though, you can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Help if you’re unwell

If your symptoms worsen and you’re struggling to manage it’s important that you get medical help.

You can visit online or call 111 for urgent medical advice. An advisor will direct you to the most appropriate service and can book you a slot at A&E if needed.

Help for families

If your child’s school tells you that your child should stay at home and self-isolate, they must follow the same rules on what you can and can’t do.

Your school will provide advice about how your child can access the school’s remote learning systems while they are at home.

If you are concerned for your child’s health and wellbeing, our Public Health Portal has lots of advice and resources that may help.

If you are advised to self-isolate please make sure you have made arrangements with friends and family who can support you in taking children to and from childcare, school or college, if they are not required to self-isolate with you.