CDPH-Home-Quarantine-Guidance Self-Quarantine Instructions for Individuals Exposed to COVID-19

Self-Quarantine Instructions for Individuals Exposed to COVID-19

Why is self-quarantine important?

If you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you may be infected even if you feel well.

It can take as few as 2 days to as many as 14 days after being near someone with COVID-19 to feel ill or to know if you are infected. Some people who are infected never have symptoms but can still pass the virus to others.

You should separate yourself from others and stay home (self-quarantine) in case you are infected. This is so you do not spread COVID-19 infection to anyone else.

What if I have been vaccinated or had COVID-19 before?

If you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past, before your new, recent close contact with someone with COVID-19, you are not required to self-quarantine or get tested if both of the following statements are true:

  • It has been less than 3 months since you started having symptoms with your earlier infection (or since your positive test date if you did not have symptoms); and
  • You have not had any symptoms since your contact.

Unless both above statements are true, you need to self-quarantine and get tested.

If you were vaccinated in the past, before your new, recent contact with someone with COVID-19, you are not required to quarantine or get tested if both of the following statements are true:

  • You were fully vaccinated at the time of your recent contact (2 or more weeks had passed since you received the second dose of a 2-dose vaccine, or one dose of a single-dose vaccine); and
  • You have not had any symptoms since your contact.

Unless both above statements are true, you need to self-quarantine and get tested.

Exceptions: CDPH guidance on quarantine for fully vaccinated people does not apply to healthcare settings; follow your employer's and health department's quarantine and testing guidelines if you live or work in a healthcare setting. Fully vaccinated residents and staff in shared housing or employees in high-density workplaces may still need to get tested.

Whether or not you need to self-quarantine, if you have had recent close contact with someone with COVID-19 you must watch for any symptoms for 14 days since your last contact date. (See How to monitor your health and What to do if you develop any symptoms). You also must still follow all public health precautions when you leave your home (including wearing a mask, washing hands, avoiding crowds, and staying at least 6 feet from others, especially those at high risk for serious illness), through the 14 days after your last exposure.

What is a "close contact"?

A "close contact" is someone who was near enough to a person with COVID-19 that they may have been infected with the virus.*

Examples of close contacts:

  • Household member, intimate partner, or caregiver of an infected person.
  • Person who was within 6 feet (2 meters) of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more within 24 hours.
  • Person who had unprotected contact with an infected person's body fluids/secretions (e.g., infected person coughed or sneezed on them)

*A person with COVID-19 is considered able to spread the virus from 2 days before their first symptoms appear until they are no longer required to be self-isolated as described in Self-isolation Instructions for Individuals Who Have or Likely Have COVID-19. A person with a positive COVID-19 test but no symptoms is considered able to spread disease to others starting 2 days before their test was taken until 10 days after their test.

How long do you need to self-quarantine?

If you do not develop any symptoms, you will need to stay in self-quarantine for 10 days from the last time you were in close contact with a person who has COVID-19. If you continue to live with or care for this person, the amount of time you have to self-quarantine depends on the type of contact that you have. Please see the When can you safely end self-quarantine section to find out more.

Do you need to get tested for COVID-19 during self-quarantine?

Yes, if you are required to self-quarantine, you should get tested, especially if you have symptoms of COVID-19. To find testing in your area, visit the COVID-19 Testing page.

If you were fully vaccinated (see definition above), or you previously tested positive for COVID-19 and it has been less than 3 months since you started having symptoms with your earlier infection (or since your positive test date if you did not have symptoms), then you do not have to get tested as long as you have not had any symptoms since your recent contact.

Exceptions: Fully vaccinated residents and employees in healthcare settings should follow their employer's and health department's testing guidelines; and fully vaccinated residents and staff in certain group settings (like a dormitory, group home or a correctional facility) and workers in high-density workplaces may still need to get tested.

If your test is positive:

If your test is negative:

  • You may have been infected but it is too early to tell with the test.
  • Stay in self-quarantine for 10 days after your last exposure (unless you are fully vaccinated or tested positive for COVID-19 in the past and meet all criteria noted in the section above).
  • Check daily for symptoms, wash hands, always wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet from others for 14 days.

What if you develop COVID-19 symptoms?

AlertCall 911 if you start to have emergency warning signs

​Difficulty Breathing

Pressure or
pain in chest​

​Bluish lips or
face

Confusion or
difficulty waking​

​Other serious symptoms

out of breath
person holding chest in distress
blue lips
confused person
person with serious issue

Tips for monitoring your health during self-quarantine: 

Stay alert for symptoms of COVID-19. Common symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body pain, headache, congestion or runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and new loss of taste or smell. This list does not include all possible symptoms.

Check your temperature twice a day. Watch for fever of at least 100.4ºf (38ºc).


If you develop symptoms, self-isolate, get tested, and call your healthcare provider.

If you have to leave your home for medical care or testing, be careful.

  • Wear a mask (see Guidance for Masks).

  • Use a private vehicle if possible. If you cannot drive yourself, keep as much distance as possible between you and the driver. Wear a mask and leave the windows down if you can. Avoid using public transportation, ride shares, or taxis. 

Self-quarantine Do & Do Nots

DO!

  • Do stay home except to get medical care. If you have other health conditions, make sure to closely monitor any new or existing symptoms, and check-in with your doctor, especially if you feel worse.

  • Do stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from others

  • Do wear a mask when around others (see Guidance for Masks, linked above, for more information).
  • Do stay away from others in your home by staying alone in one room. Ventilate spaces with outdoor air if possible.
  • Do stay away from people who are at high risk for serious illness. People at higher risk include those who are older or very overweight, have a chronic disease, or have a weakened immune system.
  • Do use a separate bathroom, if available. If that is not possible, clean and disinfect the bathroom after each use.
  • Do wash your hands often and thoroughly using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. If a sink is not available, use hand sanitizer (containing 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol). Never use hand sanitizers with methanol because of its high toxicity to both children and adults.
  • Do wipe down surfaces that you touch frequently with disposable cloths using household cleaners.

DO NOT!

  • Do not go to work, school, or public areas.

  • Do not allow visitors.

  • Do not prepare or serve food to others. 

Getting help with food and other basic needs:

When can you safely end self-quarantine?

If you do not develop any symptoms, you may end quarantine after 10 days from the date of your last close contact with someone with COVID-19, unless you received other instructions from your health department. You must monitor yourself for symptoms, wear a mask at all times around others, wash hands, and stay at least 6 feet from others for 14 days after exposure. If you develop symptoms during this time, self-isolate, get tested, and contact your medical provider to discuss your symptoms, especially if they worsen.


If you have had no further contact with someone with COVID-19:

Your last day in self-quarantine is 10 days from the date when you last had close contact with that person.

Your last close contact with a person with COVID-19 on May 1

+ 10 days

= Your last day in self-quarantine is May 11


If you have had continued contact with someone with COVID-19:

If you continue to have close contact (like living with or caring for the person), your last day of self-quarantine is 10 days from the date the person started to follow self-isolation instructions.

The person with COVID-19 started to follow self-isolation instructions on May 5

 + 10 days

= Your last day in self-quarantine is May 15


If you had an additional contact with someone with COVID-19:

The 10-day quarantine period will restart if you have close contact with the person with COVID-19 at any time during your self-quarantine. It will restart on the date of your last close contact.

You started to self-quarantine on May 10

You had close contact with a person with COVID-19 on May 13

 + 10 days

= Your last day in self-quarantine is May 23


If you cannot avoid close contact with someone with COVID-19:

Your last day of self-quarantine is 10 days from the date the person with COVID-19 completed their self- isolation. This means they were told by their doctor or local health department it was safe to be near others.

Person with COVID-19 completes self-isolation on May 15

  + 10 days

= Your last day in self-quarantine is May 25


Want more information?

Visit the CA Department of Public Health website

CDPH Self-Isolation Instructions for Individuals with COVID-19

CDPH Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People

Please call your medical provider for any questions related to your health.

If you need help finding a medical provider, call 2-1-1 or your county's Information Line.