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How to self-isolate and protect Portsmouth

Our Protect Portsmouth guide to self-isolating will help you know what to do if you need to self-isolate.

You must self-isolate immediately if you have coronavirus symptoms, have tested positive or are contacted by Test and Trace as you may have been infected – even if you don’t have symptoms. You must also self-isolate if you live with or share a support bubble with someone who has symptoms or tested positive.

Self-isolating is hard but it is really important to stop others from getting ill. If you don’t self-isolate when you should, you will be breaking the law and could be fined. The only exception to this is if you are a fully vaccinated critical worker who has been approved as exempt under the Government’s rules on self-isolation covering the period 19 July to 16 August.

The difference between staying at home and self-isolation

Self-isolating is much stricter than the instruction we all had during lockdown to stay at home. If you’re self-isolating, you should not leave the house. That includes shopping for essentials or exercising outside your home or garden.

You can find out more about the latest coronavirus rules for everyone here.

When to self-isolate

If you tick one or more of the boxes below, you must stay at home and self-isolate:

  • You have symptoms of the virus
  • You tested positive for the virus
  • You live or share a support bubble with someone showing symptoms
  • You live or share a support bubble with or someone who has tested positive
  • You have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace or local contact tracing teams and been told to self-isolate
  • An alert from the NHS COVID-19 app telling you to self-isolate
  • A child or young person has been told by school/college/university to stay at home and self-isolate

You may need to self-isolate at home or in a quarantine hotel if you have travelled to England from abroad. There are different rules depending on if you’ve travelled from a country or territory on the red, amber or green list. Find out what you need to do before you travel on the government’s website.

Most people will need to self-isolate and not leave home at all for 10 full days. You may need to self-isolate for longer if you get symptoms while self-isolating or your symptoms do not go away. You can find out more on the NHS website.

What you can and can't do when you self-isolate

You can't
  • You can’t pop to the shops or pharmacy
  • You can’t leave the house for exercise or to walk the dog
  • You can’t go to a place of work (unless exempt)
  • You can’t catch a bus or train
  • You can’t go out to pick up a takeaway
  • You can’t go to school or drop your children off at school
  • You can’t meet up with other people
You can
  • You can work from home
  • You can exercise in your home or garden
  • You can ask others to deliver food or medicine to your doorstep
  • You may leave your home when self-isolating to get a coronavirus test, if you need urgent medical care, or to avoid harm at home – for example if you’re at risk from domestic violence.
  • You can leave the house to get a coronavirus test if you have symptoms but you must go straight there and back. It is best to walk or drive yourself there if you can. Find out more about getting a test.

Critical worker self-isolation exemption

Until 16 August, critical workers who are asymptomatic (without symptoms) close contacts of someone who tested positive for coronavirus may be exempt from self-isolation for the purposes of attending work. This will enable individuals to attend work where not doing so would lead to major detrimental impact on the availability, integrity or delivery of essential services.

Can I apply for exemption?

Your employer will:

  • Be aware if the self-isolation exemption applies to your organisation or your role
  • Know how to apply for the exemption on your behalf if appropriate and the situation meets the self-isolation exemption for critical workers criteria.

Who does the exemption apply to?

This only applies to critical workers who are fully vaccinated – which means you must have had your second Covid-19 vaccination at least 14 days prior to using the exemption to attend work.

The exemption rules apply to asymptomatic contacts only and not individuals who have tested positive or who have Covid-19 symptoms.

How does it work?

The exemption only allows critical workers to leave self-isolation to attend work, at all other times the self-isolation rules apply as directed by NHS Test and Trace.

Critical workers who are allowed to attend work in these exceptional circumstances will need to:

  • Have a negative PCR test result before being approved for this isolation exemption
  • Take daily rapid lateral flow tests before attending work each day of their self-isolation period.

Your workplace will also follow other safeguards, including ensuring social distancing is maintained and face coverings are worn at all times.

If you test positive or start to show symptoms you must immediately self-isolate and will no longer be able to attend work.

You can find our more online at:


How to keep others safe at home

If you’re self-isolating it’s really important to do what you can to help protect others at home from coronavirus. Here are a few simple things you can do:

  • Keep shared spaces like the bathroom and kitchen clean using normal household products
  • Regularly clean things people touch the most such as taps, worktops, tables, door handles, light switches and handrails
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water
  • Don’t share towels, including hand towels and tea towels
  • Cover coughs and sneezes and bin tissues quickly
  • Air the house and open windows when you can, coronavirus doesn’t spread as quickly in well-ventilated spaces
  • Limit close contact with others at home as much as possible.

Know the symptoms and get tested

If you have coronavirus symptoms, you should book a test by calling 119 or visiting Gov.UK. The symptoms are:

  • A high temperature
  • A new, continuous cough
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

Be prepared in case you need to self-isolate

You might not get much notice that you need to self-isolate, especially if you’re contacted by NHS Test and Trace or the Covid-19 app. As soon as you know you need to self-isolate you must stay at home. Don’t be tempted to nip out to the shops to stock up on food and essentials for the next 10 days.

It’s a good idea to plan ahead and make sure you already have essential items at home. It might be a few days before you can get supplies, from friends, family or local support services. Think about having:

  • Some long-life food supplies, such as tinned food, long-life milk, frozen meals
  • A stock of day-to-day essentials like soap and toothpaste
  • Essential medicines and medical supplies that you rely on or might need if you start to feel unwell. Most pharmacies can deliver medication, so please don’t request more than you need – just make sure you have enough to get you through a few days of needing to stay home
  • Contact details for friends, family and local support services who can help you with supplies while you’re self-isolating

It might also be helpful to think about how you will keep yourself entertained and stay comfortable if you’re feeling unwell.

Where to get help

There is help at hand if you’re worried about self-isolating, if you need help getting essentials like food or medicine, or if self-isolating will cause financial difficulty.

A handy guide to self-isolating

Download our handy guide to self-isolating. It’s full of information on when and how to self-isolate, where to go for help and support, and tips on staying healthy and keeping busy. The guide will help you be prepared in case you or someone in your household has to self-isolate and it is good to refer back to if you’re asked to stay at home.

We also have some useful fact sheets, with key information taken from the guide: