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People who have tested positive for coronavirus and those considered at risk of having been exposed to it must self-isolate.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is self-isolating after being alerted by the UK’s NHS Covid-19 app.

When do I need to self-isolate?

You have a legal obligation to self-isolate if:

  • You have Covid symptoms – a new continuous cough, high temperature, or change in sense of taste or smell
  • You test positive for Covid-19
  • You live with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19
  • You live with someone who has Covid symptoms (unless they have a negative test)
  • You arrive in the UK from a country other than the Republic of Ireland
  • You are contacted by NHS Test and Trace to say

    you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive

Is there any financial support if I’m forced to self-isolate?

A £500 grant has been made available in England to people on low incomes who have to self-isolate.

But three quarters of those who applied between October and December were rejected, according to Labour Party research.

In Scotland people facing financial support can apply for the Self-Isolation Support Grant, worth £500, and there is a similar scheme in Wales. In Northern Ireland a discretionary payment is available.

You may also be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay if you are self-isolating.

What does self-isolation mean?

Self-isolating means staying at home and not leaving it.

You should not go out for any reason – even to buy food, medicines or other essentials, or for exercise.

You should order online groceries, or ask friends or family to help out by getting what you need and leaving items outside your front door.

What are the rules if I have Covid symptoms?

If you have Covid-19 symptoms, however mild, you should self-isolate for at least 10 days from when they started, and arrange to get tested.

If you have no symptoms, but have tested positive for the disease, you must also self-isolate for at least 10 days. This starts from the day you took the test. If you develop symptoms during this time, you must restart your 10-day isolation.

If you still have a temperature after 10 days, you should continue to self-isolate, but can go out again if, by then, you only have a cough or loss of taste or smell.

How are the rules enforced?

Anyone in England who does not self-isolate after a positive test could be fined up to £10,000.

In Scotland, you can be currently be fined £480 for breaking the rules. iIn Wales the fine starts at £60 and doubles for each further offence, and in Northern Ireland fines can be up to £1,000.

What are the rules if I live with someone with Covid?

If someone you live with has coronavirus, all the other people in the household must also self-isolate, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

This means you must not leave the house for 10 days from the day they first became ill, or – if they have no symptoms – from the day they had a test.

If they then display symptoms, you must start a new 10-day isolation period from the day they first appear.

How do I self-isolate if I live with others?

If you have symptoms or test positive, you need to try to keep apart from other members of your household.

You should stay in a well-ventilated room where you can open a window, but keep the door closed.

You should also use a separate bathroom. If this is not possible, then you should use the bathroom after everyone else and clean it thoroughly afterwards.

Meals should be eaten in your room and not in a shared area like the kitchen.

How do I self-isolate if I’ve travelled to the UK?

Travellers entering the UK must self-isolate for 10 days unless they have come from the Common Travel Area, which includes the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

In England a test to release scheme launched on 15 December, in which people can reduce their quarantine if they pay for a Covid test after five days and produce a negative result.

Some workers are exempt from having to quarantine. The full list is here. It includes bus, coach and lorry drivers and elite sportspeople.

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