This guideline is supplementary to the current Public Health (COVID-19 Self-Isolation) Order​ and should be read in conjunction with the Order.​

Last updated: 01 January 2021
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What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation means you must stay at your home or accommodation and remain separated from others. You cannot leave your house or accommodation, unless for medical care or a permitted purpose.

Travelling to your accommodation

You must travel directly to the place where you will undertake self-isolation (home, hotel or other accommodation) and not stop at any location. You should travel by private car, or if necessary, taxi or ride-share. You should not travel on public transport. You must wear a mask and ensure you physically distance.

Monitor symptoms and seek help if they develop

You must monitor yourself for any new symptoms. Watch particularly for:

  • fever (37.5°C or higher) or history of fever (night sweats, chills)
  • cough
  • runny nose
  • shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)
  • sore throat
  • loss of smell
  • loss of taste.

Other reported symptoms of COVID-19 include: fatigue, acute blocked nose (congestion), muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea/vomiting and loss of appetite.

For a full list of symptoms,COVID-19 clinics and information on how to get tested visit NSW Health - COVID-19 or NSW Government.

If you become severely unwell and it is a medical emergency, you should phone 000. Tell the ambulance staff that you are in self-isolation due to COVID-19.

Can I leave my accommodation? Can I have visitors?

Self-isolation means you must stay at your home or accommodation and restrict your normal activities. If you are staying in a hotel or motel, you should not leave your room.

You cannot go to work, school, childcare, university, recreation facilities, or public areas or go shopping. You should not allow people who do not have an essential need to be in your home or accommodation while you are in isolation.

You can leave your home to seek medical care or because of an emergency (including to avoid injury or escape a risk of harm from domestic violence). If you are required to leave for a permitted reason, you should wear a mask, maintain a distance from others (minimum of 1.5 metres) and travel directly to and from the location back to your home or accommodation. You should travel by private car, or if necessary, taxi or ride-share. You should not travel on public transport. If you need further advice, you should contact your local Public Health Unit at 1300 066 055.

Can I go into the garden?

If you are in hotel accommodation you must remain in your room; you can go onto your private balcony if you have one. If you are at your home, you can go into your private garden or courtyard or onto your private balcony if you have one.

Separate yourself from the other people in your home

If you are sharing your home or accommodation with others, you should:

  • remain separated from others
  • wear a surgical mask when you are in the same room as another person (even if they are also in isolation) and when you visit a healthcare provider
  • use a separate bathroom, if available
  • avoid shared or communal areas and wear a surgical mask when moving through these areas
  • not be in a room with people who are at risk of severe disease, such as elderly people, immunocompromised people, and those who have heart, lung or kidney conditions, and diabetes.

The only other people who should be in the home are those who normally reside there and cannot find alternative accommodation, or those who are providing essential care for the person who is in isolation.

How can I obtain food and other essential supplies?

Ask your family, friends or other members of the household to pick up groceries and medicines for you. If this is not possible, you may be able to order groceries and medicines (including prescription medicines) online or by telephone. If you are staying in hotel accommodation, any food ordered through a food delivery service should be brought directly to your hotel room door. If you still need help with obtaining food and essential supplies, call your local Public Health Unit at 1300 066 055.

Wear a surgical mask

You should wear a surgical mask when you are in the same room with other people (even if they are also in isolation) and when you visit a healthcare provider. Make sure your surgical mask covers your nose and mouth at all times and avoid touching your mask unnecessarily. Please see how to wear a mask correctly.

Cover coughs and sneezes

You should cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough or sneeze into your sleeve or elbow. Used tissues should be placed in a bin, and hands cleaned immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

Wash your hands

You should wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if your hands are not visibly dirty. Ensure you wash your hands or use hand sanitiser:

  • before entering an area where there are other people
  • before touching things used by other people
  • after using the bathroom
  • after coughing or sneezing
  • before putting on, and after removing, gloves and masks.

Do not share household items

You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items with other people in your home. After using these items, you should wash them thoroughly with soap and water or use a dishwasher/washing machine.

Clean household surfaces regularly

Clean all "high-touch" surfaces, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables, at least once a day wearing disposable gloves. After cleaning apply a household disinfectant or diluted bleach solution. To make a bleach solution at home, add 1 tablespoon of bleach to 4 cups of water. Ensure you follow the safety instructions on the bottle.

For further information on cleaning see NSW Health COVID-19 fact sheets and brochures.

What happens if you don't comply with self-isolation

Not following these guidelines puts family, friends and the community at risk. Not following these rules is also a criminal offence and attracts heavy penalties. For individuals, the maximum penalty is $11,000, 6 months in prison, or both with a further $5,500 fine for each day the offence.

Still have questions or need support while in isolation?

For more information

Current as at: Friday 1 January 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW