The below advice aims to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among people who work in high-risk settings.

Last updated: 23 March 2021

Download as PDF: NSW Health guidance for households of people working in high risk settings

What is a high-risk setting?

A high-risk setting is any place where COVID-19 might spread more easily due to environmental factors, and/or where the effects of an outbreak would be more serious due to health vulnerabilities among residents or patrons. These include:

  • hotel quarantine facilities and transportation
  • international airports (e.g. retail and hospitality, baggage handling and passenger aircraft crew)
  • health care and aged care facilities
  • residential disability care facilities
  • crowded or high-density housing
  • prisons
  • boarding schools
  • homeless shelters and residential/crisis hostels
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities (particularly in rural and remote areas)
  • food processing, distribution and cold storage facilities, including abattoirs

If you work in a high-risk setting, you should be careful to avoid introducing infections into your workplace. If you work with vulnerable communities, you should avoid close contact with others who are at increased risk of being in contact with someone who has COVID-19, including:

  • air and maritime crew,
  • international border staff,
  • workers supporting quarantine and isolation services.

People who work in high-risk settings are among those being prioritised for COVID-19 vaccination. If you live in the same house as someone who works in one of these jobs, you should take precautions to avoid getting or spreading COVID-19, monitor for symptoms and get tested if either party becomes symptomatic.

What general precautions should I take?

Some simple measures significantly reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 and of spreading it:

  • Clean your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand rub/sanitiser
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing or use your elbow, not your hands
  • Avoid close contact with people unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms, and stay home and get tested for COVID-19 if you have these symptoms
  • Avoid touching your face and eyes
  • Greet people with a wave and a smile
  • Maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres from others as much as possible, and avoid crowded places
  • Wear a mask
  • Show your care to loved ones in aged care facilities or hospitals, infants, or people with compromised immune systems due to illness or medical treatment by phone, letters or social media.
  • Use cashless options to buy things
  • Catch public transport in off-peak times, if you can.

 If you share your home with others, encourage them to follow the steps above to reduce their risk of getting COVID-19.

What if I am vaccinated for COVID-19?

The COVID-19 vaccination will substantially reduce the chance that you develop COVID-19.  No vaccine is completely effective. It takes a few weeks for your body to build up protection from the vaccine. Some people may still get COVID-19 despite having been vaccinated, possibly with less severe or without symptoms

The same precautions should be taken  for people who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 and for those who have not.

I recently returned from overseas, when can I return to work?

For people who have finished hotel quarantine, you can return to work after you've received a negative result from your Day 16 COVID-19 test and have no COVID-19 symptoms. See more information on release from isolation.

How will I know if I have COVID-19?

Check for symptoms

Monitor themselves for symptoms and ask their housemates to do the same. Watch particularly for:

  • fever (37.5°C or higher) or history of fever (night sweats, chills)
  • cough
  • shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)
  • sore throat
  • nausea/diarrhoea
  • loss of smell
  • loss of taste.
  • fatigue
  • runny nose
  • joint pains
  • acute blocked nose (congestion)

Unexplained chest pain and conjunctivitis have also been reported as symptoms of COVID-19.

Get tested

If you or your household members develop symptoms, you should seek help and be tested as soon as possible. Remain isolated until a clear result is received.

Testing options include:

Where possible, travel by private vehicle. Use a surgical mask when in the presence of other people, or when attending medical care.

What if I am a close contact of a COVID-19 case?

If you have been notified that you are a close contact of a COVID-19 case, you must get tested immediately and self-isolate for 14 days after you last had contact with the infectious person. You must follow the home isolation guidance for close contacts.

What if I am a casual contact of a COVID-19 case?

If you have been notified that you are a casual contact of a COVID-19 case or if you have been to any of the venues or travelled on the public transport routes listed on the latest COVID-19 news and updates, follow the directions to get tested, isolate until you receive a negative test result and monitor for symptoms.

There is more advice for you on the NSW Health fact sheet casual contacts.

What if a person in my household is a close contact of a COVID-19 case?

If a person in your household is a close contact, they will need to get tested immediately and self-isolate for 14 days after their last contact with the infectious person. You will also need to self-isolate until the close contact has received an initial negative result.

During this 14-day period, the close contact must remain separate from others in the household. This means the close contact should:

  • stay and sleep in a different room
  • use a separate bathroom, if available (otherwise clean it after every use)
  • wear a mask when you are in the same room as another person (even if they are also in isolation)
  • not share household items including dishes, cups, towels, bedding, or other items. After using these items, you should wash them thoroughly with soap and water or use a dishwasher/washing machine
  • avoid shared areas and wear a mask when moving through these areas

If you can't stay separate from the close contact, speak to your Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055 about alternative accommodation. If alternative accommodation is not appropriate, you will also need to isolate for the 14 day period. You cannot go to work while in home isolation.

If the close contact tests negative initially, they still need to remain in self-isolation until the isolation period finishes. On day 12 of their isolation period, they must have another test to confirm that they have not developed a COVID-19 infection. You do not need a test unless you develop COVID-19 symptoms.

What if a person in my household is a casual contact of a COVID-19 case?

If a person in your household is a casual contact, they will usually need to be tested immediately and isolate until they receive a negative test result. If you work in a high-risk setting, you should also monitor carefully for symptoms. You do not need to be tested unless you develop COVID-19 symptoms.

Current as at: Tuesday 23 March 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW