COVID-19 Self-Isolation Information

Last updated: 2 p.m. EST, September 28, 2020

What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation is when you have been instructed to separate yourself from others, including those within your home, with the purpose of stopping the spread of the virus. If you are ill, you should be separated from others in your household to the greatest extent possible.

Who needs to self-isolate?

At this time, the recommendations  and directions are as follows.

You should also self-isolate if you:

  • are in an at-risk group (please click on the link for a list of different at-risk groups)
  • think you have symptoms of COVID-19
  • think you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or who has recently returned from travel.

The self-isolation instructions vary for each person's situation. Which one of the following statements best describes your situation?

I have recently travelled outside of Canada (including the United States of America)
I am sick and being sent for testing for COVID-19

I'm being tested due to having had close contact with a positive case of COVID-19

  • If you have had a high-risk exposure with a positive case (as notified by public health) or you believe you have been in contact with a positive case, please self-isolate for 14 days from date of exposure to the positive case, even if you receive a negative test result. 
  • If you develop ANY symptoms at all (even mild symptoms) while you await your results, self-isolate, take the provincial online assessment tool and follow the directions.
 I am not sick but being tested due to the nature of my work (essential worker, etc.)
  • If you have no symptoms and are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through your type of employment, including essential workers (e.g., health care workers, grocery store employees, food processing plants), you do not need to self-isolate while awaiting test results.
  • If you develop ANY symptoms at all (even mild symptoms) while you await your results, self-isolate, take the provincial online assessment tool and follow the directions.
I am not sick but a household member/close contact is sick and being sent for testing.
  • If you are not sick but a household member/close contact is sick and is being tested, your family doctor will advise if you need to self-isolate. In general:
    • You do not need to self-isolate, but you should monitor yourself for symptoms (unless advised otherwise by your doctor or public health)
    • If you develop ANY symptoms at all (even mild symptoms) while you await your results, self-isolate, take the provincial online assessment tool and follow the directions

I am not sick but a household member/close contact has had a high-risk exposure with a positive case, and is being tested.

  • If you are not sick but a household member/close contact has had a high-risk exposure with a positive case, and is being tested:
    • You do not need to self-isolate, but you should monitor yourself for symptoms.
    • If you develop ANY symptoms at all (even mild symptoms) while you await your results, self-isolate, take the provincial online assessment tool and follow the directions

I am not sick and neither is my household member/close contact, but they are being tested due to the nature of their work (e.g. essential worker).

  • If you are not sick and neither is your household member/close contact, but they are being tested due to the nature of their work (e.g. essential worker):
    • You do not need to self-isolate while awaiting test results.

I am not sick and I am a household contact of a healthcare worker who is not sick but is being tested for COVID-19. 

  • You can continue to work and do not need to self isolate at home because you are at no additional risk given that the healthcare worker is completing all the required measures for working safely at their facility (hospital, long-term care home, etc.), such as wearing the appropriate PPE, self-monitoring for symptoms, and going through daily active screening. 
General Self Isolation Guidelines
  • Fact sheet: How to Self Isolate (Public Health Ontario)
  • Stay home:
    • Do not go to work, school or other public places.
    • Do not use public transportation, taxis or rideshares.
  •  Limit the number of visitors in your home:
    • Only have visitors who you must see and keep visits short.
    • Keep away from seniors and people with chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, lung problems, weakened immune system 
  • Avoid contact with others:
    • Stay in a separate room away from other people in your home as much as possible and use a separate bathroom if you have one.
    • Make sure that any shared rooms have good airflow (e.g., open windows). 
  • Keep distance:
    • If you are in a room with other people, keep a distance of at least two metres from others. 
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes:
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
    • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand.
    • Throw used tissues in a lined wastebasket and wash your hands. Lining the wastebasket with a plastic bag makes waste disposal easier and safer.
    • Wash your hands after emptying the wastebasket. 
  • Wash your hands:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
    • Dry your hands with a paper towel, or with your own cloth towel that no one else shares.
    • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. 
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth if you are symptomatic:
    • Wear a mask if you must leave your house to see a health care provider.
    • Wear a mask when you are within two metres of other people. 
  • Household cleaning and disinfection
    • Clean all “high-touch” areas such as counters, toilets, sink tap handles, tabletops, doorknobs, TV remotes, phones, and bedside tables daily using regular household cleaners.
    • Clean more often if surfaces become visibly soiled.
    • Clean any surfaces than may have blood, body fluids and/or secretions on them.
    • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning surfaces.
    • Use a diluted bleach solution (2 teaspoons of bleach to 4 cups of water) or household disinfectant.
    • Dishes and eating utensils should be cleaned with dish soap and hot water after each use.
    • Use of a dishwasher with a drying cycle also provides a sufficient level of cleaning. 
  • Laundry
    • Clothing and bedclothes can be cleaned using regular laundry soap and water and do not require separation from other household laundry.
    • If clothing or bedding have blood, body fluids and/or secretions, wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items, remove gloves and wash hands immediately afterwards. 
  • Waste management
    • All waste generated can be bagged in a regular plastic bag and disposed of in regular household waste.
I have not been instructed to self-isolate but would like to as a precaution.
 We encourage all residents to practice physical distancing and practice good hand hygiene to stop the spread of germs.
I have been told to self-monitor.

If you are having difficulty breathing or experiencing other severe symptoms, call 911 immediately. Advise them of your symptoms, travel history, or exposure risks.

 What if I see someone not practicing self-isolation?

As of March 26, an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act requires any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19. There are a few exceptions, please see Public Health Agency of Canada's latest instructions for travellers.

If you have a concern about people who are not self-isolating when returning from affected areas, contact your local police force.

If you are concerned about a person's actions, we encourage you to have a kind and respectful conversation with that person and remind them about the current recommendations for stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our community. You can direct them to our website for the latest recommendations.

For further information:

See additional resources on our COVID-19 Response Resources page.