Self isolation

Please read our information on how we are supporting residents and businesses, as well as information on affected services.


Remember, you will need to self-isolate immediately for 10 days if you

  • develop symptoms of Covid-19
  • or test positive

If you’re identified as a close contact of a positive case you no longer have to self-isolate if you are under 18 years of age or are double-jabbed (as long as your second jab was at least 14 days prior to contact with a positive case).

Instead you will be advised to get a free PCR test as soon as possible to check if you have the virus, and will only be legally required to self-isolate if you test positive.

However, if you are over 18 and haven’t had both jabs you will still be required to self-isolate for 10 days if you’re identified as a close contact of a positive case.

Self Isolation is just one part of helping stop the spread of Covid-19, but it's very important.  In the video below, one of our public health consultants, Brian, explains why.

Needing to suddenly self-isolate can often take people by surprise.

‘Who’s going to walk the dog if I can’t leave my home? How do I get my shopping delivered? Can I still go to my doctor’s appointment?’

These are common dilemmas and often lead to people breaking the rules around self-isolation, according to Cornwall Council’s case trackers.

View news story on Cornwall Council Case Trackers

The public health team has come up with a list of top tips and common pitfalls that everyone should be aware of in case they find themselves suddenly having to self-isolate.

This is in addition to our self-isolation packs which you can find below.

The guides include everything you need to know about isolating and the support available.

Self isolation guides

Make contingency plans

These could include:

  • Have a couple of days’ worth of food in the cupboard that will keep you and your household fed until you can get a shopping delivery.
  • Have supermarket deliveries set up or have an arrangement with friends or family for dropping off shopping. If this isn’t possible contact volunteer Cornwall or visit our help with food pages more options.
  • Have an arrangement in place for someone to pick up and drop off any medical supplies.
  • Have some over the counter painkillers in stock for headaches and other aches and pains.
  • Make an arrangement for someone to walk your dog. Maybe get them to have a few trial runs in case you ever need to call on them.
  • Remember that if you test positive your whole household will need to self-isolate. Have discussions about this in advance so that you are prepared.
  • Decide in advance how you will self-isolate from others in your household
  • Make sure that you have a stock of cleaning products known to kill Covid so that you can clean down any communal areas such as bathrooms.

Common mistakes

Having tradespeople in the home and

  • not wearing face coverings
  • not keeping distance
  • not ventilating
  • not sanitising after their visit

Cutting short the isolation period. The first day of symptoms, or a positive test if there are no symptoms, counts as day zero. Isolation is for a full 10 days after that. For example, if your symptoms started or your test was on 1 May  then your last day in isolation would be 11 May. This means you could leave your home on 12 May.

Forgetting that if a household member tests positive, all household members are included in the self-isolation. This means children in a self-isolating household will not be able to attend school or sports and leisure clubs during the isolation period. Their school will be able to send them work to do so they don’t miss out.

Going out to walk the dog. This is said to be the most common reason for breaking the self-isolation rules.

What to do if you need to self isolate

Stay connected – you can still text, call or video friends and family.

Keep to a routine to help you through the 10 days. Set a time to get up, have meals and so on.

Have a ‘to do list’ in case you have to self-isolate but still feel well. This way you can get on top of all those little jobs you’ve been meaning to get around to like cleaning the cupboards or painting the kitchen.

Keep a few things to do to help pass the time like some jigsaws, books, games.

Plan how you will exercise at home.

Know how to seek mental health support if it becomes too much for you. For details on the help available, visit our mental health support web pages. If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s mental health then call the 24/7 NHS Mental Health Response Line on 0800 038 5300.

What not to do

Don’t go to the supermarket on the way for your Covid test. Make sure you’re well stocked with basic provisions and have supermarket deliveries set up.

Don’t go out whilst waiting for a test of for a result. Self isolate from the moment you have symptoms.

Don’t let anybody into your home or talk to them on the doorstep.

If anyone in the household receives essential care at home, let their care provider know in advance that the household is self-isolating.

Do not go outside of your home for any reason except urgent health care. So this means

  • don’t go out to work
  • don’t go for routine health and dental appointments
  • don’t go for your Covid vaccine (re-schedule it)
  • don’t go to school or the workplace
  • don’t use public transport

Don’t provide care for anyone, including elderly relatives. Instead put in place your contingency plan.

If you have tested positive with a PCR test (one that is sent to a lab rather than the rapid tests) you will generally not be required to get another test. Self-isolation will need to be completed even if another test is negative during this period.

And finally

Remember, this is all temporary. Try to stay positive. Use your time creatively and constructively. If you do find yourself struggling, remember there is plenty of help and support available to you.

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