Self-isolation (self-quarantine) for coronavirus (COVID-19)
Self-isolation means you must stay at home for 14 days. You must self-isolate if you have COVID-19, or you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, or you arrived in Australia after midnight on 15 March 2020.
Self-isolation means staying at home or in your hotel room for 14 days. This is to prevent the possible spread of the virus to other people.
This means you:
- do not leave your home/hotel unless it is an emergency
- do not go to public places such as work or shopping centres
- do not let visitors in - only people who usually live with you should be in your home.
If you are well, there is no need to wear surgical masks inside.
If you are isolating at home, ask others who are not in isolation to get food and necessities for you. For support contact your state or territory health agency.
If you are in a hotel you must avoid contact with other guests or staff.
Who must self-isolate
You must self-isolate if any of the following applies to you:
- you have COVID-19
- you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
- you arrived in Australia after midnight on 15 March 2020
Going home when told to self-isolate
If you are feeling unwell or have been asked to self-isolate, use personal transport such as a car to get home. This minimises contact with others.
You must go straight home. Do not go to the shops, even to buy food, medicine or groceries. Organise for family or friends to buy supplies for your or order them online for delivery. If you need support contact your local state or territory health departments.
If you need to use public transport (for examples, taxis, ride-hail services, trains, buses and trams):
- wear a surgical mask, if available
- cover your cough and sneeze
- if possible, stay more than 1.5 metres away from people
Ordering prescription medications from home
If you need a prescription medication but cannot leave your home, you can have it delivered from your regular pharmacy through the Home Medicines Service.
Each delivery through this service must include at least 1 medication on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme or the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Learn more about Home Medicines Services or contact your local pharmacist.
Getting medical help or ordering prescriptions from home
If you are self-isolating to protect others or yourself, we are funding services to help you see your doctor and get your medicines from home.
Bulk-billed telehealth services
You can access bulk-billed telehealth services from your doctor, nurse or mental health professional via phone or videoconference. This is a temporary measure that we expect to end on 30 September 2020.
Ordering prescription medications from home
Your doctor can give you a prescription via telehealth. They create a legal, paper copy and also a digital copy (photo or PDF).
The 2 options to fill the prescription are that your doctor sends the digital copy to:
- your pharmacist
- you, and you send it to your chosen pharmacy by email or text
Either way, the doctor must send the paper copy to the pharmacy within 15 days.
If you already have a paper prescription or repeat at home, you can send a digital copy to your pharmacy and they can fill it. The photo of PDF must be clear enough for the pharmacy to scan the barcode (if applicable). You must send them the paper copy within 15 days.
Most medicines can be supplied this way. Your doctor will tell you if your medication is restricted.
Home delivery for medicines
Call your pharmacy to check that have your medicine in stock (or can order it for you) and can deliver it to your home.
Once the pharmacy has received the digital copy, they can deliver it the address on the prescription.
Make sure your doctor and pharmacist have your correct address.
If you live in a private house, it is safe for you to go into your garden or courtyard.
If you live in an apartment or are staying in a hotel, it is also safe for you to go into the garden but you should:
- wear a surgical mask to minimise risk to others
- stay 1.5 metres from other people
- move quickly through common areas
When in isolation, monitor yourself for symptoms.
What to do if you get sick
Call your doctor for an urgent assessment if you develop symptoms within 14 days of:
- returning to Australia, or
- your last contact with someone with COVID-19
See our home isolation guidance when unwell, which has advice on living arrangements at home while sick, wearing masks, cleaning, and more in several languages.
If you have difficulty breathing or become seriously unwell and it is an emergency, call triple zero (000) immediately and alert ambulance staff to your travel/contact history.
Advice for others living with you
If you are well, others that live with you do not need to self-isolate unless they also meet one of the isolation criteria.
If you develop symptoms and health authorities suspect you have COVID-19, those living with you are close contacts and must isolate.
To minimise the spread of any germs regularly clean surfaces that are frequently touched such as door handles, light switches, kitchen and bathroom areas. Clean with household detergent or disinfectant.
Being in isolation for 14 days can be stressful and boring. To help manage being in isolation:
- keep in touch with family members and friends via telephone, email or social media
- where possible, keep up normal daily routines, such as eating well and exercise
- arrange to work from home
- ask your child's school to supply assignments or homework by post or email
- do things that help you relax and use isolation as an opportunity to do activities you don't usually have time for.
- reassure young children using age-appropriate language.
There are a range of support services available. For more support:
- 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.
- Call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.
- Contact your local state and territory health departments.
Isolating at home if you are unwell or have coronavirus
If you have coronavirus or are unwell you may isolate at home if you:
- are well enough to receive care at home
- have a separate bedroom and can avoid using communal areas
- have access to the recommended personal protective equipment (at a minimum, gloves and mask); and
- do not live with household members who may be at increased risk of complications from novel coronavirus infection (a person over the age of 65, young children, pregnant women, people who are immunocompromised or who have chronic heart, lung, or kidney conditions).
You should wear a mask while you are inside your home when other people are present. If you cannot wear a surgical mask, the people who live with you should not stay in the same room as you and should wear a mask if they enter your room.
Only household members who are essential for caring for you should stay in the home. Other people living in the home should consider staying elsewhere if possible.
Surfaces in shared areas such as door handles, taps and benches should be cleaned daily with household disinfectant or a diluted bleach solution
If you have difficulty breathing or are seriously unwell and it is an emergency, call triple zero (000) immediately.
Returning to your community
If you have completed your 14 day self-isolation period without developing symptoms you may leave your home for essential activities such as shopping and work. If you can work from home, you should.
If you become unwell and experience coronavirus symptoms return home and contact your doctor.