If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test, even if your symptoms are mild. You should self-isolate at home while you book the test and wait for the results. You must self-isolate if you test positive. Your isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day your test was taken if you do not have symptoms), and the next 10 full days. This is the law.
The most important symptoms of COVID-19 are recent onset of any of the following:
a new continuous cough
a high temperature
a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
For most people, COVID-19 will be a mild illness. However, if you have any of the symptoms above, even if your symptoms are mild, stay at home and arrange to have a test.
You must also self-isolate if you are told to do so by NHS Test and Trace, for example if you have come into contact with someone who has tested positive. This remains the law, regardless of your vaccination status.
From 16 August, if you have been fully vaccinated you will be exempt from the requirement to self-isolate if you are a contact of a positive case. You will instead be advised to take a PCR test as soon as possible.
You will also be exempt from self-isolation from 16 August if you are under 18 and a contact of a positive case. As with adults, you will be advised whether a PCR test needs to be taken. If you are 18 years old you will be treated in the same way as under 18 year olds until 4 months after your 18th birthday, to allow you the opportunity to get fully vaccinated.
If you test positive you will still need to self-isolate regardless of your vaccination status or age. When self-isolating, follow the stay-at-home guidance. This will help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to other members of your household and community. You must stay at home at all times and not have contact with other people. There are only very limited circumstances when you do not have to do this, such as seeking medical assistance. If you do leave your home during your period of self-isolation for a permitted reason, you should maintain social distancing and keep 2 metres apart from other people.
You may be entitled to a one-off payment of £500 through the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment scheme if you are required to stay at home and self-isolate, or you are the parent or guardian of a child who has been told to self-isolate. You should visit your local authority website for details on Test & Trace Support Payments and practical support offered in your area.
You could be fined if you do not self-isolate following notification by NHS Test & Trace.