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People in isolation must follow this advice regarding when they can be released from isolation.

Travellers requiring isolation

People in isolation (in hotels or at home) after returning from recent travel are required to quarantine for 24 days. You can return to daily activities and cease isolation after 14 days if:

  • you have had a negative test result taken on or after your 12th day of quarantine and
  • the Chief Health Officer or delegate is satisfied that you do not pose a risk of infecting another person with COVID-19 and
  • you have received medical clearance by a health practitioner to be released from isolation. Please seek testing immediately if you have any symptoms after leaving quarantine.

If following your 14 day isolation period you are completely well, it is very unlikely that you will develop symptoms related to COVID-19 exposure during travel, however you should be tested regardless.

If you decline to have a COVID-19 test on or after your 12th day you will be required to self-isolate for the full 24 days.

People who develop COVID-19 in isolation and their close contacts may have different release criteria.

Travellers with exemptions

People who have been granted an exemption from a designated quarantine facility (hotel) to isolate at home (or alternative accommodation) must do so in accordance with relevant isolation advice. You must:

  • have a COVID-19 test on arrival (day 0) and again on day 12
  • only travel by private car to get to your home, or point of onward travel
  • if travelling by aircraft, board only the flight booked with appropriate physical distanicing, wear a mask, physically distance as much as possible in the airport and in the air and practice good hand hygiene.
  • not travel if you are symptomatic
  • if travelling to another state, have clearance to travel to that state.

People travelling to other states or territories are subject to isolation requirements and advice of that State or Territory upon arrival. Exemptions to travel intersate are rare.

Close contacts of people infected with COVID-19

If you have been identitied as a close contact, you can return to daily activities if you have:

  • completed the 14-day isolation period
  • have a negative initial COVID-19 test result and
  • have another negative COVID-19 test result at day 12, and
  • have not shown any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 during this time.

All close contacts should get tested as soon as possible after learning they are a close contact of someone infected with COVID-19.

Close contacts need to have a test again on day 12 (since your last contact with an infected person) of their isolation period. Ensure you tell the testing facility that you are a close contact. They must continue to self-isolate until their isolation period is completed and a negative test result is recieved.

If unsure contact your Public Health Unit for advice (1300 066 055).

People suspected to have COVID-19 (suspected cases)

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and have been tested, you must self-isolate until your doctor or your pathology service advises you of your test result.

If the test is negative, you do not need to remain in isolation unless you are:

  • within the 14-day isolation period after recent travel
  • a close contact of a person and within the 14-day isolation period after your last contact with that person.

In those cases, you need to remain isolated until the 14-day isolation period is complete.

Please note, people with respiratory symptoms who have a negative COVID-19 test should remain at home and apply good hand and respiratory hygiene until symptoms have resolved.

If the test is positive, you will become a confirmed case and will need to remain in isolation. Your doctor and the local public health unit will give you advice to follow.

People with COVID-19 (confirmed cases)

While some people who are diagnosed with novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19) will need to be admitted to hospital, most people will have mild illness and can stay at home in isolation.

For most people, release from isolation will be based on clinical features, such as duration of illness and time elapsed since resolution of all symptoms. The health service looking after you, or your local public health unit, must make an assessment and advise you on when you can stop self-isolation.

You must follow the self-isolation rules. It is an offence not to comply and is punishable by fines, imprisonment or both.

If you were not admitted to hospital or you were admitted to hospital for reasons not directly related to acute COVID-19 you can leave isolation once your designated health practitioner has confirmed:

  • at least 10 days have passed since your onset of symptoms and
  • there has been resolution of fever and substantial improvement of respiratory symptoms of the acute illness for the previous 72 hours

If your illness was severe enough to need admission to hospital, you can be released from isolation once your designated health practitioner has confirmed:

  • at least 14 days have passed since onset of symptoms and
  • there have been no fever and respiratory symptoms of the acute illness for the previous 72 hours.

Other criteria may apply if your illness is prolonged and your fever or respiratory symptoms have not resolved after 14 days.

If you have been diagnosed with a variant of concern you can be released from isolation once you have been medically assessed as non-infectious and cleared by a medical practitioner who confirms:

  • at least 14 days have passed since onset of symptoms or positive PCR test result if asymptomatic and,
  • there hasve been no fever and respiratory symptoms of the acute illness for the previous 72 hours and
  • you have received a negative test result on a test completed 12-13 days from symptom onset or if you have no symptoms, 12-13 days from your first positive test. Other criteria will apply if your results from this test are not negative which may require an additional test.

Once you are no longer in isolation you should continue to practice hand hygiene, cough etiquette and physical distancing.

People with COVID-19 who are significantly immunocompromised

In addition to meeting the above criteria, if you are significantly immunocompromised, you can be released from isolation when you are PCR negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart at least 7 days after symptom onset.

Additional information

Considerations for people with existing respiratory illness

Some people may have a pre-existing illness with chronic respiratory signs or symptoms, such as chronic cough. In this case, the doctor who has been treating you should assess whether the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 have resolved.


People in home isolation must not use public transport.

Once you have completed your isolation period you can use public transport.

Hygiene and physical distancing

Everyone should continue to practice good hand and respiratory hygiene and physical distancing to reduce the spread of all contagious diseases:

  • regularly and thoroughly wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • avoid touching your face, especially your eyes and mouth
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing
  • keep at least 1.5 metres (2 arms’ lengths) from other people.

For more information

Current as at: Thursday 14 January 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW