Quarantine for coronavirus (COVID-19)

Quarantine is when you are well but may have been in contact with someone with COVID-19. In such cases, you must quarantine for 14 days to prevent the spread of the virus. Read more about what quarantine is, who must go into quarantine, and what to do if you live with someone in quarantine.

What is quarantine? 

Quarantine is when you are well but may have been in contact with someone with COVID-19. If this happens they will be required to isolate from other people to prevent the spread of the virus. The quarantine period is 14 days from when you may have been in contact with the virus.

Quarantine is different to isolation and physical distancing.

Who must go into quarantine

If a public health authority directs you to, you must go into a mandatory 14-day period of quarantine. During this time they will monitor you.

You will need to go into quarantine if you:

  • have returned home from overseas
  • have been in contact with someone who has confirmed or is likely to have COVID-19
  • are entering certain remote areas in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Northern Territory (unless exempt)
  • are entering a state that has a required quarantine period

If you remain well after 14 days you will be able to leave quarantine. If you develop symptoms during this time you will need a test for COVID-19. Even if you test negative you must stay in quarantine for the full 14 days.

If you test positive you will need to go into isolation. Anyone who has been in your household is a close contact and must then go into quarantine.                                               

Steps you need to take while in quarantine

When you must quarantine you must go straight to your home, hotel room or other accommodation. You cannot stop anywhere, not even to buy food, medicine or groceries. Where possible, use personal transport such as your car.

You must in quarantine for the entire 14 days to stop the spread of the virus. This is because you may be in the incubation period (the time between getting the virus showing symptoms). If you leave quarantine before the end of 14 days you may face criminal charges or a fine.

Quarantine means you:

  • must not leave your home/hotel except
    • in an emergency 
    • to obtain essential medical care
  • must not go into public places including work and shops
  • must not let anyone into your home/hotel room unless they

If you live in a house, you may go into your garden or courtyard. You can go onto your balcony if you live in an apartment or are staying in a hotel.

If you are in a hotel you must avoid contact with other guests and staff.

Monitor symptoms

If you develop cold or flu like symptoms in quarantine you should phone your doctor or the healthdirect hotline. They can tell you how to get a test for COVID-19.

If you are having serious symptoms you should call 000 straight away. This includes shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or chest pressure or pain. Tell the ambulance staff you are in quarantine and may have coronavirus.

If you live alone, a friend or family member can ring you to check that you are OK.

If you develop symptoms and test positive for coronavirus you will enter isolation. The people living with you now become close contacts and must go into quarantine.

Living with other people while in quarantine

If you are well, others you live with don’t need to quarantine unless they also meet the criteria. You should limit your contact with them as much as possible by:

  • staying in your own room
  • using a separate bathroom, if you can
  • staying at least 1.5 metres away from others
  • avoiding common areas and wearing a mask when moving through these areas
  • wearing a mask when in the same room as others
  • not sharing a room with people, especially people at risk of severe disease (this includes elderly people and people with heart, lung, or kidney conditions and diabetes)
  • practising good hand hygiene and covering coughs and sneezes
  • avoiding sharing household items
  • frequently cleaning the house, especially things people touch often, like door handles

How to get food and medication

You can get food and medication while in quarantine by doing one of the following:

  • Ask friends or family members you don’t live with to get food and medication to leave at your door. If you need a prescription filled arrange this with your usual pharmacist or GP. You can then let your friend or family member know where to go to collect the medication.
  • Arrange a food delivery service. Have all food left outside your house. Do not let any delivery person into your home.
  • If you need a prescription filled you can arrange for your doctor to send your prescription to your pharmacy. They can then deliver it to your house. Read more about getting medicines and accessing health services.

Returning to your community

If you have completed your 14 day quarantine period without developing symptoms you will be able to leave quarantine. You should follow the same advice that applies to the rest of the community in your state or territory.

You must continue to practise physical distancing, and good hygiene.

If you become unwell and have any cold or flu like symptoms return home and contact your doctor.

Support services

There are a range of support services available to help you. You can do the following:

  • Visit Head to Health for links to trusted Australian mental health online and phone supports, resources and treatment options. This useful website also has online programs and forums, as well as a range of digital information resources.
  • Contact your local state and territory health departments.

National Coronavirus Helpline

Call this line if you are seeking information on coronavirus (COVID-19) or help with the COVIDSafe app. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

View contact

Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National)

TIS National is for people who do not speak English and for agencies and businesses that need to communicate with their non-English speaking clients.

View contact

Last updated: 
22 May 2020

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