COVID-19 - Get vaccinated and find public health advice for residents and businesses.

Community Guidance on Self-Isolation

This information outlines guidance that applies to the general community, and school and childcare settings. The Ministry of Health outlines the following requirements for people with symptoms of COVID-19, individuals who test positive, household members and close contacts.

Take the COVID-19 Self Assessment if you were exposed to COVID-19, have symptoms or for screening for recommendations on what to do next.

Who needs to self-isolate

Individuals must self-isolate if they:

  • Have COVID-19 symptoms (regardless of vaccination status or if they previously tested positive for COVID-19)
  • Have tested positive for COVID-19 on a rapid antigen or PCR test

Household members are not required to self-isolate if they do not have symptoms AND one of the following applies:

  • Are 18 years of age and older and have received their booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine
  • Are under 18 years of age and are fully vaccinated
  • Previously tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days

Otherwise, household members must self-isolate.

Individuals may be required to follow federal quarantine and testing requirements after international travel. Some exemptions may apply; follow federal guidelines.

See 'Requirements for self-monitoring and self-isolating' for instructions and length of isolation.

For information on who is eligible for COVID-19 testing and what your test results mean, see COVID-19 testing and your test results.

Requirements for self-monitoring and self-isolating

Requirements for individuals exposed to COVID-19 and length of isolation may depend on individual factors such as vaccination status.

The day you developed symptoms or got tested (whichever came first) is day zero. Day one is the first full day after. For example, if Jan. 1 is day zero, Jan. 6 is day five and Jan. 7 is when your self-isolation can end.

  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms or test positive for COVID-19

    In all scenarios, symptoms need to be improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms) and no fever present before ending self-isolation.

    Five-day self-isolation from the date of test or from when symptoms began (whichever is earlier) for:

    • Fully vaccinated individuals
    • Children under 12 years of age

    10-day self-isolation from the date of test or from when symptoms began (whichever is earlier) for:

    • Individuals 12 years of age and older who are not fully vaccinated
    • Individuals who are hospitalized for COVID-19 related illness
    • Individuals who reside in a highest-risk setting

    20-day self-isolation from the date of test or from when symptoms began (whichever is earlier) for:

    • Severe illness (requiring intensive care or at discretion of hospital infection prevention and control)

    If self-isolation ends after five days, more measures are needed due to continued risk of spreading the infection. For a total of 10 days from the date of test or when symptoms began (whichever was earlier), individuals must:

    • Wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings
      • Maintain masking as much as possible in public settings. Reasonable exceptions would include taking off the mask temporarily for essential activities (e.g. eating in shared space at school) where as much distancing is maintained as possible.
      • Participation in activities where masking can be maintained may be resumed. Individuals should avoid activities where mask removal is necessary (for example dining out).
      • Individuals exempt from masking (e.g. children under two years of age) can return to public settings without masking
    • Not visit anyone who is immunocompromised or at higher risk of illness (seniors)
    • Not visit or attend work in a highest-risk setting
  • Household members

    If you're a household member of someone with COVID-19 symptoms or someone who tests positive for COVID-19 on a rapid antigen test or PCR test, review these instructions.

    Household members that are required to isolate (see 'who needs to self-isolate') should isolate for the same length of time as the person with symptoms / positive case.

    Household members with no symptoms that are required to isolate should extend their self-isolation if any other household member develops COVID-19 symptoms, until the last symptomatic (or positive case) has finished their isolation period.

    The initial person with symptoms / person who tested positive doesn't need to extend their self-isolation period if other household members become sick

    For a total of 10 days after last interaction with the person with symptoms / positive case, all household members must:

    • Self-monitor for symptoms and self-isolate if they develop any COVID-19 symptoms
    • Wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings
      • Maintain masking as much as possible in public settings. Reasonable exceptions would include taking off the mask temporarily for essential activities where as much distancing is maintained as possible (e.g. eating in shared space at school).
      • Participation in activities where masking can be maintained may be resumed. Individuals should avoid activities where mask removal is necessary (for example, dining out).
      • Individuals exempt from masking (for example, children under two years of age) can return to public settings without masking
    • Not visit anyone who is immunocompromised or at higher risk of illness (seniors)
    • Not visit or attend work in a highest-risk setting (unless previously tested positive for COVID-19 on a rapid antigen test or PCR test in the 90 days)
  • Close contacts

    A close contact is anyone who was less than two metres away from a COVID-19 positive individual or person with symptoms even for short periods of time. The interaction would have occurred in the 48 hours before their symptoms began or before they received their positive test result (if no symptoms) and until they started self-isolating.

    For a total of 10 days after last interaction with the person with symptoms / positive case, all close contacts must:

    • Self-monitor for symptoms and self-isolate if they develop any COVID-19 symptoms
    • Wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings
      • Maintain masking as much as possible in public settings. Reasonable exceptions would include taking off the mask temporarily for essential activities where as much distancing is maintained as possible (e.g. eating in shared space at school).
      • Participation in activities where masking can be maintained may be resumed. Individuals should avoid activities where mask removal is necessary (for example, dining out).
      • Individuals exempt from masking for example, children under two years of age) can return to public settings without masking
    • Not visit anyone who is immunocompromised or at higher risk of illness (seniors)
    • Not visit or attend work in a highest-risk setting (unless previously tested positive for COVID-19 on a rapid antigen test or PCR test in the 90 days)
  • Individuals who are immunocompromised

    Individuals who are immunocompromised who test positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19 must self-isolate for 10-days from the date of test or from when symptoms began (whichever is earlier).

    • For a total of 20 days from the date of test or when symptoms began (whichever was earlier), immunocompromised individuals must:
      • Wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings
        • Can be removed for essential activities where as much distancing is maintained as possible
        • Individuals should avoid activities where mask removal is necessary
        • Individuals exempt from masking (children under two years of age) can return to public settings without masking
      • Not visit anyone who is immunocompromised or at higher risk of illness (seniors)
      • Not visit or attend work in a highest-risk setting

    Household members that are immunocompromised and don't meet the self-isolation exceptions are required to isolate for 10 days after last interaction with the case / symptomatic person.

  • Highest risk settings

    Highest risk settings include:

    • Hospitals, including complex continuing care facilities and paramedic services
    • Congregate living settings, including long-term care, retirement homes, First Nation elder care lodges, group homes, shelters, hospices and correctional institutions
    • Home and community care workers
    • Provincial demonstration schools and hospital schools

    All other settings are considered non-highest risk.

    Guidance may be different for individuals who live, work or volunteer in these settings.

    • If someone lives, works, attends or volunteers in a highest risk setting has symptoms of COVID-19, they should self-isolate and get tested.
    • If someone who works in a highest risk setting tests positive for COVID-19, they should not attend work for 10 days from when their symptoms began (or date of test if they have no symptoms).
    • If someone lives in a highest risk setting and tests positive for COVID-19 they should self-isolate for 10 days from when their symptoms began (or from the date of test if no symptoms) AND until their symptoms are improving for 24 hours (48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present)

    Close contacts in highest risk settings

    • Close contacts who live in a highest risk setting should generally self-isolate for 10 days after last exposure
    • Close contacts without symptoms who work, volunteer or attend a highest risk setting can follow guidance for contacts in the community (i.e., outside of the highest risk setting), unless otherwise directed by Public Health
    • Close contacts should not be working in highest risk settings for 10 days after their last interaction to the positive case, unless required for critical work shortages
    • Close contacts who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days (based on positive rapid antigen or PCR test) can attend work in the highest-risk setting, as long as they have no symptoms. These individuals should self-monitor for symptoms for 10 days since their last interaction with the positive case.

What 'fully vaccinated' means

You're considered fully vaccinated when you have received:

  • The full series of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or any combination of such vaccines, OR
  • One or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada, followed by one dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine authorized by Health Canada, OR
  • Three doses of any COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada

AND you must also have received your final dose of the vaccination series at least 14 days previously.

Vaccination is more important than ever and boosters can substantially increase your protection from COVID-19. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccination.

Next steps

  • Notify your workplace

    You must tell your employer if you:

    • Attended the workplace in the 48 hours before you developed symptoms, or
    • Have no symptoms, but attended the workplace in the 48 hours before your positive test result
    • Were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19
  • Monitor your health

    If you need medical attention, call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or your primary care provider, and tell them that you have tested positive for COVID-19.

    If you need urgent medical attention, call 911 and tell them that you have tested positive for COVID-19.

  • Think about where you have been

    Can you think of anyone that you had contact with who would be considered a close contact before you were infected? Inform them of your positive test result or symptoms.

    A close contact is anyone who was less than two metres away from a COVID-19 positive individual or person with symptoms even for short periods of time. The interaction would have occurred in the 48 hours before their symptoms began or before they received their positive test result (if no symptoms) and until they started self-isolating.

    Use calendars, pictures taken, banking statements, GPS records and credit card receipts to remember where you might have been.

How to self-isolate

  • For everyone who needs to self-isolate
    • Stay at home and indoors. Don't go to school, work or any public areas. When going outside for fresh air, stay away from other people. Use your own backyard or balcony, avoid crowded trails or walk when no one is around. Don't walk with people outside your household. Wear a mask. Avoid other people by taking the stairs instead of the elevator when leaving your building and leave a distance more than two metres from other people while you're outside.
    • Figure out how you (and any household members if required) will self-isolate. Do your best to stay separate from other household members. A large proportion of household members may become sick if there's a COVID-19 infection in the home.
      • Individuals who are infected should self-isolate away from household members who do not have symptoms or test negative
      • If the infected individuals can't stay separate (for example, if you're leaving your bedroom to use the bathroom or go to the balcony or backyard), wear a medical mask or N95 / KN95 respirator if you have one, otherwise wear a high quality three layer cloth mask
    • If isolating in the same building as others are living, take steps to increase ventilation. Open windows periodically as weather permits, run the forced air heating / ventilation system continuously, use a higher MERV rating filter, and try and maintain a humidity of 30-50 per cent.
    • Practise regular cleaning and disinfecting
    • Clean your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or hand sanitize and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
    • Don't share tablets, gaming devices, headsets, towels, etc. with other household members
    • Don't use public transportation, rideshare companies or taxis
    • Cancel non-urgent appointments
    • If you must go out for a medical appointment or urgent care, drive by yourself. If you need someone to drive you, sit in the back seat, wear a mask and roll down your window. Your driver should wear a mask as well.
    • Don't have visitors unless it's essential, such as health care providers. If arranging for delivery of groceries and other necessities, have the person leave them at the door so that you don't put them at risk.
  • Additional self-isolation guidance for household member(s) who have COVID-19 symptoms or tested positive

    Persons who are infected can isolate together. If possible, they should self-isolate in a separate part of the house with a separate bathroom and bedroom.

    • Have a caregiver bring meals and supplies to the room and drop off outside the door
    • When leaving your bedroom to use the bathroom or go outside, wear a medical mask or N95 / KN95 respirator if you have one, otherwise wear a high quality three layer cloth mask
    • Keep a physical distance of two metres from other household members
  • Coping with self-isolation

    It's normal to feel sad, stressed, confused, scared or anxious during times of crisis. Try to focus on what you can control, and allow your emotions to come and go like a wave. Use these tips to help cope with self-isolation.

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