NHS advice for staying at home
Stay at home advice
Staying at home can help stop coronavirus spreading
You’ll need to stay at home if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or live with someone who does.
Staying at home means you should:
- not go to work, school or public areas
- not use public transport or taxis
- not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home
- not go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
You can use your garden, if you have one. You can also leave the house to exercise – but stay at least 2 metres away from other people.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature or a new, continuous cough), use the 111 coronavirus service to find out what to do.
How long to stay at home
If you have symptoms
If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you’ll need to stay at home for 7 days.
After 7 days:
- if you do not have a high temperature, you do not need to stay at home
- if you still have a high temperature, stay at home until your temperature returns to normal
You do not need to stay at home if you just have a cough after 7 days. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.
If you live with someone who has symptoms
If you live with someone who has symptoms, you’ll need to stay at home for 14 days from the day their symptoms started. This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear.
If more than 1 person at home has symptoms, stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person started having symptoms.
If you get symptoms, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms start, even if it means you’re at home for longer than 14 days.
If you do not get symptoms, you can stop staying at home after 14 days.
Get an isolation note to give to your employer
If you live with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus, you can get an isolation note to send to your employer as proof you need to stay off work.
You do not need to get a note from a GP.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus and need to stay at home, use the 111 coronavirus service to get an isolation note.
If you have symptoms and live with a vulnerable person
If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to arrange for them to stay with friends or family for 14 days.
If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.
try to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from each other
avoid using shared spaces, such as kitchens or bathrooms, at the same time as each other
open windows in shared spaces if you can
clean a shared bathroom each time you use it, for example by wiping the surfaces you have touched
use a dishwasher if you have one – if you do not have one, use washing-up liquid and warm water and dry everything thoroughly
do not share a bed, if possible
do not share towels, including hand towels and tea towels
Reducing the spread of infection in your home
While you’re staying at home, you should:
- wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
- clean objects and surfaces you touch often (like door handles, kettles and phones) using your regular cleaning products
How to do your cleaning and laundry
Use your usual household products, such as detergents and bleach, when you clean your home.
Put used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths in rubbish bags. Then put the bag into a second bag and tie it securely. Wait 3 days before putting it in your outside bin.
Dispose of other household waste as normal.
Wash your laundry in the washing machine in the usual way. Laundry that has been in contact with an ill person can be washed with other people’s items. Do not shake dirty laundry, as this may spread the virus in the air.
If you do not have a washing machine, wait for 3 days after your stay at home has ended before taking your laundry to a launderette.
Looking after your health and wellbeing
To help yourself stay well while you’re at home:
- drink plenty of water to stay hydrated – drink enough so your pee is pale and clear
- take paracetamol to help ease your symptoms
- stay in touch with family and friends over the phone or on social media, to help you avoid feeling low or lonely
- try to keep yourself busy – you could try activities like cooking, reading, online learning and watching films
- do light exercise, if you feel well enough to
There is advice about how to look after your mental wellbeing while staying at home from Every Mind Matters.
There is currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make coronavirus (COVID-19) worse.
But until we have more information, take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless your doctor has told you paracetamol is not suitable for you.
If you are already taking ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) on the advice of a doctor, do not stop taking it without checking first.
What to do if you need medical help if you have to stay at home
If you get symptoms not related to coronavirus and need medical help:
- do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
- if it’s not an emergency, use the NHS 111 online service – call 111 if you cannot get help online
- if it’s an emergency, call 999 – tell the call handler you may have coronavirus
Cancel all routine face-to-face medical and dental appointments while you’re staying at home. You may be able to do some appointments over the phone.
Urgent advice: Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:
- you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
- your condition gets worse
Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.