Why do I need to self-quarantine if I’m well?
Some people may be infectious for a short period before they develop symptoms. While this is believed to be uncommon, it does mean that people with COVID-19 may be infectious before they develop obvious symptoms.
For this reason, people returning from overseas must quarantine themselves for 14 days after arriving in Australia and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing).
Close contacts of people who are confirmed to have COVID-19 must also be quarantined in their home for 14 days after their last contact with the infectious person.
Being quarantined at home means that you need to stay at home for the full 14-day period. You cannot go to work, school, or public areas, such as shops, cafes or restaurants. You need to tell people not to visit you while you are quarantined.
Travelling to your home to quarantine
Wherever possible, if you need to travel to your home for quarantine (for example, traveling from the airport), you should use a personal mode of transport, such as a private car, to minimise exposure to others. If this is not possible and you need to use public transport, rideshare or taxi, you should avoid direct contact with other people (including other passengers, drivers and transport staff), cough/sneeze into your elbow, and wash your hands before and after you travel.
Do I need to wear a mask inside my home if I’m being quarantined?
You do not need to wear a mask while you are inside your home unless you become unwell with symptoms and there are other people living or staying with you. The main symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, sore throat, chills, and shortness of breath.
How do I keep the people I live with safe from the infection?
Practising good hand and respiratory hygiene is the best defence against the spread of the virus.
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 to 30 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if your hands are not visibly dirty. Do this before handling food, before eating, as well as after using the toilet. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- avoid close contact with others
- cough or sneeze into your elbow or directly into a tissue, throw the tissue in a bin, and wash your hands.
For more information, please refer to the Protect yourself and others page.
Do the people I live with need to be quarantined?
The people you live with and other close contacts do not need to be quarantined, unless they are also close contacts of a confirmed case or have travelled overseas in the past 14 days. The people you live with should also practise good hand and general hygiene.
Can I go outside if I’m in quarantine?
If you live in a private house, it is safe for you to go into your garden or courtyard. If you live in an apartment or staying in a hotel, it is also safe for you to visit the garden, but you should wear a surgical mask to minimise risk to others and move quickly through any common areas.
What happens if I develop symptoms whilst in quarantine?
You need to monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days after leaving any overseas country, or for 14 days after you were last exposed to a person diagnosed with COVID-19.
The key signs and symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath.
Less common symptoms are loss of smell, loss of taste, runny nose, muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.
If you develop any of these symptoms, take the steps outlined on the Getting tested page.
Are there any special cleaning requirements if I’m in quarantine?
There are no special cleaning requirements. However, it is recommended that surfaces which are touched regularly, such as door handles, kitchen and bathroom areas and phones are cleaned frequently using detergent and water or a detergent-based cleaner, such as Spray N Wipe™.
How do I shop for food?
You may need more groceries when you are in quarantine at home. If the people you live with are unable to get groceries, or if you live alone, friends or family living outside of your household can deliver groceries to your home. They should leave the groceries at your door.
Some grocery stores offer home delivery for groceries ordered online, including the main supermarket chains. Groceries should be left at your front door. If your groceries need to be signed for, this should ideally be done by someone else in your home, who is not in quarantine. If this is not possible, you can sign for the groceries, but you must wear a mask and wash your hands before answering the door.
How do I get my medication whilst in quarantine?
If you know you will run out of your medications whilst in quarantine, you should arrange ahead of time for your medications to be delivered to your home by a family member, friend or your usual pharmacy. Tell them you are quarantining yourself at home and to notify you when they arrive at your home, but to leave the medications at your front door.
How do I maintain my mental health during isolation?
Home quarantine can be distressing, particularly for young children.
Suggestions to maintain good mental health include:
- reading information about COVID-19 from reliable sources, such as the ACT Health website
- talking to the other members of the family about the infection. Understanding COVID-19 can reduce anxiety
- maintaining a daily routine, as much as possible
- maintaining a positive attitude. Think about how you’ve managed in other difficult situations and reassure yourself that you will cope with this situation as well. Home quarantine is only temporary
- reassuring young children using age-appropriate language
- considering each other’s needs. Make sure everyone can have some time alone during the day
- accepting that conflict and arguments may occur. Try to resolve them as soon as possible. For young children, distraction may help
- staying in touch with family members and friends by phone, email or social media
- exercising regularly as it helps to reduce stress. Options include yoga, floor exercises, dancing, exercise DVDs or online videos, walking around the backyard, and use of a stationary exercise bike.
For more information, see ACT Mental health services.
How do I reduce boredom during quarantine?
Being confined to your home can cause boredom, stress and conflict. Suggestions to reduce boredom include:
- arrange with your employer to work from home, if possible
- ask your child’s school to provide assignments, worksheets and homework by post or email
- don’t rely too much on technology or television
- treat quarantine as an opportunity to do those things you enjoy and usually don’t have time for, such as reading, drawing, board games and craft.
Further assistance for people in quarantine
If you have more questions or need help while being quarantined at home, you can contact the COVID-19 Helpline on (02) 6207 7244 between 8am and 8pm daily.