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 stay in 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.
You must stay up to date with local information about isolation and quarantine. If you have been tested for COVID-19, you must follow the directions from public health authorities and the medical professional who tested you.
Please visit your state or territory website for specific information on isolation and quarantine for your area:
- Australian Capital Territory COVID-19 site
- New South Wales COVID-19 site
- Northern Territory COVID-19 site
- Queensland COVID-19 site
- South Australia COVID-19 site
- Tasmania COVID-19 site
- Victoria COVID-19 site
- Western Australia COVID-19 site.
What is quarantine?
Quarantine is when you are well but may have been in contact with someone with COVID-19. If this happens you 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.
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 close contact with someone who has confirmed or probable COVID-19
- are entering a state or territory, or an area within a state or territory, that has a required quarantine period.
If you remain well after 14 days you will be able to leave quarantine, provided you have not had further close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Your public health authority will tell you when you can leave quarantine. Arrangements for being released from quarantine vary across states and territories. You need to check your state or territory website for details.
If you develop symptoms during your quarantine period you will need a test for COVID-19. In some areas you may be required to be tested while in quarantine, even if you don’t have symptoms.
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.
What is a close contact?
A close contact is:
- face-to-face contact in any setting with a confirmed or probable case, for 15 minutes or more. This is cumulative over the course of one week. It starts from 48 hours before the onset of symptoms in the confirmed or probable case.
- sharing of a closed space with a confirmed or probable case for a prolonged period (e.g. more than 2 hours). This is in the period extending from 48 hours before onset of symptoms in the confirmed or probable case.
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 stay 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 and 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 room 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:
- usually lives with you
- are entering to provide medical care
- are entering for an emergency.
If you live in a house, you may go into your private garden or courtyard. You can go onto your private balcony if you live in an apartment or are staying in a hotel.
If you are in a hotel you must stay in your room and not have any contact with other guests and staff.
If you develop COVID-19 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 or they are directed to quarantine by a public health unit. 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. You can also ask your pharmacist to deliver it to your house. Read more about getting medicines and accessing health services.
- Arrange a food delivery service. Have all food left outside your house. Do not let any delivery person into your home.
Returning to your community
Once you are cleared to leave quarantine, you need to follow any restrictions that apply to the community in your state or territory.
If you become unwell and have any cold or flu like symptoms return home and contact your doctor.
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 and COVID-19 vaccine helpline
If you need information about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines or help with the COVIDSafe app, call the telephone number listed below. If you need assistance with booking a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, please note the call centre is unable to book appointments on your behalf.
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.