Quarantine information for other travellers and close contacts

If you are flying directly into the ACT from overseas on a government facilitated flights, you must enter 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine in the ACT. Please refer to quarantine information for people entering the ACT on government facilitated flights.

Who is required to quarantine in the ACT?

To prevent transmission of COVID-19 to the ACT community, quarantine is currently mandatory for the following people:

  • People who have recently returned to Australia from overseas.
  • People who have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. ACT Health will identify the close contacts of every COVID-19 case in the ACT.
  • People who have visited a public location (such as a restaurant) at the same time as a confirmed COVID-19 case, during the case’s infectious period, may be determined as close contacts by a health authority (such as ACT Health or NSW Health).

In addition, people who have been working, studying or living in a setting where there a confirmed COVID-19 case or outbreak is detected may be asked to initially quarantine while ACT Health determines whether they are considered a close contact of the confirmed COVID-19 case. If this applies to you, you will need to quarantine until you receive further advice about whether you are a close contact or not. If ACT Health determines that you are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, you will be contacted directly and advised to quarantine for 14 days after your last contact with the case. If ACT Health determines that you are not a close contact, you will receive an email from ACT Health via your place of work, study or residence to advise you that you are not a close contact. This means that you will no longer need to be in quarantine. You can then return to your place of work, study or residence, when you have been advised that it is safe to do so.

The information on this page is relevant for anyone entering mandatory quarantine in the ACT, unless they have arrived on a government facilitated flights from overseas.

The mandatory quarantine period is 14 days. The last day of potential exposure to COVID-19 is counted as day 0, and quarantine lasts until 11:59pm on day 14.

Why do I need to quarantine if I’m well?

Some people who have COVID-19 may be infectious for a short period before they develop symptoms, and a small number of people with COVID-19 may not show any symptoms at all. This means that people with COVID-19 may be able to spread the disease to others, without knowing they are unwell.

For this reason, people who are at higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19 are required to undergo a period of quarantine, to protect other members of the community. These people include those who have recently returned from overseas or from high-risk interstate locations, and those who have had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case.

What is a close contact?

A close contact is:

  • someone who has been face to face with someone who has COVID-19, while that person was infectious, for more than 15 minutes cumulative over the course of a week, or
  • someone who has been in the same closed space with someone who has COVID-19, while that person was infectious, for more than 2 hours, or
  • someone who has been deemed to be a close contact by a public health authority.

If you think you are a close contact of someone with confirmed COVID-19 and you haven’t been called by the ACT Health, you can contact ACT Health through the COVID-19 Helpline on (02) 6207 7244.

What does it mean to be in quarantine?

Most people will be able to safely undergo quarantine in their home. If you don’t live in the ACT, or if there are other reasons why home quarantine may not be possible, the quarantine period may be completed in a hotel at your own expense. For people entering the ACT directly on Government facilitated flights, hotel quarantine is mandatory.

Being quarantined at home means that you need to stay at home. Being quarantined in a hotel means that you need to stay in your hotel room. 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.

If there are other people living in your home, ACT Health will determine whether they also need to quarantine. This will depend on a number of factors, including the reason you are in quarantine. If ACT Health provides approval for others in the home not to quarantine, you need to maintain appropriate separation from them. This includes sleeping in a separate bedroom, using a separate bathroom if available, and not spending time in common areas at the same time as others in the home. If you need to be in the same room as other people, you should wear a mask.

While in quarantine, you need to monitor yourself closely for any symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or loss of sense of smell or taste. If you develop any of these symptoms, you should arrange to get tested for COVID-19. ACT Health will contact you each day to check whether you have symptoms, and to check on your wellbeing in quarantine.

While you are in quarantine, you can leave your home to seek essential medical care (including COVID-19 testing) but you need to take appropriate precautions as advised by ACT Health. If you have a medical emergency, you should call triple zero (000). Be sure to let them know that you are in quarantine.

COVID-19 testing during quarantine

You need to get tested during quarantine if you develop any COVID-19 symptoms. You should contact ACT Health (you will be provided with a direct contact number at the start of your quarantine period) to notify them of your symptoms. ACT Health will assist with arranging testing for you if you are symptomatic in quarantine.

Even if you do not develop any symptoms, ACT Health requires all people in quarantine to get tested prior to leaving quarantine, on day 10-12 of the quarantine period. This is called an “exit test”. This is required because a small number of people with COVID-19 do not develop any symptoms, but can still transmit the disease to other people. An exit test will help to ensure that you do not transmit COVID-19 to others once you leave quarantine. ACT Health will provide you with advice on how to seek COVID-19 testing if you remain asymptomatic during your quarantine period. Details of COVID-19 testing sites in the ACT are available on the Symptoms and getting tested page.

Travelling to your quarantine location

Wherever possible, if you need to travel to your quarantine location, 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 the people I live with need to be quarantined?

For people who have recently been in high-risk interstate locations, or who are close contacts of a COVID-19 case:

If you can maintain appropriate separation from other people who live with you, they do not need to also be in quarantine. Appropriate separate means sleeping in a separate bedroom, using a separate bathroom if available, and not spending time in the same room as other people. If you need to be in the same room as other people, you should wear a mask.

If you cannot maintain separation as described above, then the people you live with will need to quarantine in your home along with you, or you will need to quarantine in a hotel or other approved premises (at your own expense).

Under a Public Health Direction, a parent/guardian is required to quarantine alongside a minor who is in quarantine.

For people who have recently been overseas:

If you are granted an exemption to quarantine at home in the ACT (rather than in a hotel room at your port of arrival), all other people in the home are required to quarantine with you.

If you arrive directly into the ACT on a government-organised repatriation flight, you must quarantine in a hotel in the ACT. For more information, visit the quarantine page for people from government facilitated flights.

How do I keep the people I live with safe from COVID-19?

See above for information on what to do if you need to quarantine and live with other people who are not in quarantine. You must sleep in a bedroom on your own, use a separate bathroom if available, and avoid spending time in the same room as other people. If you need to be in the same room as other people, you should wear a mask.

You need to pay close attention to cleaning. You and the people you live with should all practise good hand and respiratory hygiene.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 to 30 seconds. You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser instead of washing with soap and water, if your hands are not visibly dirty. Ensure to clean your hands before handling food and before eating. After using the toilet, you must wash your hands with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands.
  • Avoid close contact with others in your home. Ideally, you should sleep in a separate bedroom from others in your home.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or directly into a tissue, throw the tissue in a bin, and wash your hands.

For more information, visit the Protect yourself page.

Do I need to wear a mask while I’m in quarantine?

If you are staying in a hotel room, you do not need to wear a mask if you have no symptoms. You need to wear a mask should you need to open the door to anyone or if there is an evacuation at the hotel. If you develop symptoms and there are family members sharing your hotel room, you should wear a mask inside the hotel room. Young children who cannot tolerate a mask do not need to wear one.

If you are in quarantine at a private residence, you should wear a mask when you are in a room with other people.

When wearing a mask, it must cover your nose and mouth at all times. Avoid touching or adjusting your mask unnecessarily.

Can I go outside if I’m in quarantine?

If you have a private garden, courtyard or balcony, you may go outside into these areas.

What symptoms should I look out for while I am in quarantine, and what do I do if I get symptoms?

You need to closely monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19 during your quarantine period.

The key signs and symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, loss of smell and loss of taste. Less common symptoms are runny nose, muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.

If you develop any of these symptoms, you should take the following steps:

  • Notify ACT Health of your symptoms. You can do this when you are contacted for your daily check-in, or by calling ACT Health directly. You will be provided with a direct contact number at the start of your quarantine period.
  • Arrange to get tested for COVID-19. ACT Health will provide advice on how to get tested if you develop symptoms while you are in quarantine.

What if I need a medical assessment and/or my usual medications during quarantine?

If it is a medical emergency, please call triple zero (000). Tell them that you are in quarantine.

There are a number of options to access non-urgent medical care, including prescriptions for your usual medications:

  • You can contact a General Practitioner (GP) to ask for a telehealth consultation (phone-based appointment). We encourage you to contact your own GP, even if interstate, if you have one. You may be charged a consultation fee. If you are in a vulnerable patient category, you should be bulk billed for the consultation.
  • You can locate a local GP in Canberra, including after-hours GPs, by using the ‘find a health service’ on the Capital Health Network website.
  • The Canberra After Hours Locum Medical Service (CALMS) can provide medical care outside of business hours for review of non-urgent medical conditions. When contacting CALMS, tell them that you are currently in quarantine for COVID-19 and request a telehealth consultation. CALMS can be contacted on 1300 422 567 from 6.30pm to 8.30am on weekdays and over the weekends from 6pm Friday to 8.30am Monday. For further information, you can visit the CALMS website.

To get your regular medications:

  • A GP can arrange for your prescription to be sent to a local pharmacy. You can ask a friend or family member to visit the pharmacy to collect your medication and deliver it to you at home or at the hotel where you are staying. They will need to leave the medication at your front door (if you are quarantining at home) or at hotel reception.
  • If you don’t have anyone who can collect a prescription for you, a number of pharmacies can offer home or hotel delivery. You will need to ring the pharmacy to arrange payment, and the pharmacy can deliver your medicines to your home or hotel.

Are there any special cleaning requirements if I’m in quarantine?

It is important to clean “high touch” surfaces frequently, especially in communal areas of the home. High touch surfaces are those that are touched regularly, such as door handles, light switches, kitchen and bathroom areas, and phones. These can be cleaned using detergent and water or a detergent-based cleaner, such as Spray N Wipe™.

What if there is an evacuation at the hotel or requirement to evacuate my home?

In the unlikely event that there is an evacuation at the hotel or your home (e.g. due to a fire alarm), you should proceed out of your hotel room or your home and follow usual emergency procedures. You and everyone else who is in quarantine with you must wear a surgical mask (if you have them). Young children who cannot tolerate a mask do not need to wear one.

You must follow the instructions of hotel staff (if applicable) and any emergency services personnel. You must always remain 1.5 metres away from other people (except anyone you live with who is also in quarantine). You must also inform emergency services personnel that you are in quarantine.

How do I shop for food?

There are several options to get food while you are in home or hotel quarantine.

  • If you have friends or family in Canberra who can buy food for you, they can deliver groceries or other food for you. They must leave it at your front door (if you are quarantining at home) or at hotel reception.
  • If you are in home quarantine and you live with people who are not also in quarantine, they can buy groceries or other food for you.

Some grocery stores offer home delivery for groceries ordered online, including the main supermarket chains. Groceries should be left at your front door (if you are quarantining at home) or at hotel reception.

  • You can also order takeaway food from local restaurants using apps such as Uber Eats, Deliveroo or Menulog, or by calling local restaurants and ordering takeaway directly. The food will need to be left at your front door (if you are quarantining at home) or at hotel reception.

How do I maintain my mental health during quarantine?

Quarantine can be distressing and can have impacts on your mental health and wellbeing. You may feel frustrated, distressed or overwhelmed in coping with quarantine and being separated from family and friends. There are things we can try that might help with these feelings.

  • Keeping positive really helps. Remind yourself about how you have coped with other challenges, as this can reassure you that you have the resilience to cope with this situation.
  • Try to establish a daily routine as much as possible.
  • Focus on healthy eating and maintaining a good sleep pattern.
  • If you live with others, it’s important to try and be considerate of everyone’s needs, including having some time alone through the day.
  • In confined households, you might not get on as well as you’d like all the time! If there are conflicts and arguments, try to resolve things as calmly and as soon as possible.
  • If you have children in your household, speak calmly to them about what is happening and help create some structure in their daily routine (even if this is different from their usual). Limiting how much they access distressing news or images will also help them to cope better.
  • Remain connected with family and friends by phone, email and social media.
  • We all benefit from exercise. It can be more challenging to do this at home, but there are different things you can try such as floor exercises, dancing, yoga, exercise DVDs or online videos. Take advantage of any outdoor space you have. A backyard or balcony can be a great space for exercise.
  • Limit how much time you are spending accessing news and other media about COVID-19. Keeping informed about what is happening is important but constantly reading, listening or watching the news can make you feel more distressed and less able to cope.

For more information, see our page on Mental Health and Wellbeing during COVID-19.

If you are concerned about your mental wellbeing during your quarantine period, you can contact ACT Health through the COVID-19 helpline on (02) 6207 7244. ACT Health can refer you to our COVID-19 Wellbeing Team for further support.

If you need immediate mental health support, please contact one of the service providers listed on the Get Immediate Support page. If your situation is life threatening, please call triple zero (000). Be sure to notify them that you are in quarantine.

What if I need financial help because I can’t go to work?

Casual and part-time workers have been among the hardest hit with widespread unemployment across a range of sectors.

A COVID-19 Hardship Isolation Payment for workers experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic has been created to support Canberrans who are unable to temporarily work under a COVID-19 direction or health guidance.

Workers will be eligible payments of up to $1,500 depending on an individual’s circumstances (such as available sick leave through their employer).

For more information on the initiative, including eligibility and how to apply, please read the COVID-19 Hardship Isolation Payment Guidelines.

If you believe you meet the eligibility requirements please complete the application form on the Access Canberra website.

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.

For more contact options, see our Contact us page.

If you’re looking for quarantine information and advice in NSW, please visit the NSW Government’s COVID-19 website.

acknowledgement icon
Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

Last Updated: November 22 2020