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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health

Understanding Self-Isolation Requirements

Page last updated: January 13, 2022

Individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 should assume they have the virus and isolate for a minimum of 5 days (10 days if immunocompromised or not fully vaccinated).

Visit www.ontario.ca/exposed if you have symptoms of COVID-19, have tested positive, or think you have been exposed to the virus.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19

Flow chart depicting what to do when you have symptoms of COVID-19
As per page 10 of Ontario’s COVID-19 Integrated Testing & Case, Contact and Outbreak Management Interim Guidance: Omicron Surge

Individuals who have no symptoms but test positive, should isolate for 5 or 10 days from the date of their test, based on their age and/or vaccination status.

Self isolation is a legal requirement. The minimum fine for violating self-isolation orders is $750.

If you test positive for COVID-19

Follow HPEPH’s Instructions for Individuals Who Test Positive, or additional information at  Ontario.ca/exposed.

If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19

Follow HPEPH’s Instructions for Individuals Who Have Been Exposed, and/or review the flow chart below.

Flow chart depicting what to do if you have been exposed
As per page 13 of Ontario’s COVID-19 Integrated Testing & Case, Contact and Outbreak Management Interim Guidance: Omicron Surge

I have been identified as a high-risk contact, but I work in a highest risk setting*. What should I do?

*For the purposes of this guidance, highest risk settings for consideration of early return to work to mitigate critical staffing shortages applies to: hospitals including complex continuing care facilities and paramedic services, Congregate living settings including long-term care homes, retirement homes, First Nation elder care lodges, group homes, shelters, hospices, and correctional facilities.

Individuals who have been identified as high-risk contacts who work or attend a highest-risk workplace must inform their employer. They must NOT attend work for 10 days from their date of exposure OR date of symptom onset (even if their isolation period ends after 5 days). The only exception to this restriction is if attendance is required in response to critical staff shortages at highest risk settings as determined by their employer.

A testing strategy based on risk level is available for all close contacts of persons with COVID-19 and cases of COVID-19 who are otherwise required to self-isolate or not attend work for 10 days. Follow up with your employer to determine which testing strategies apply to your situation.

Precautions for individuals on early return to work include:

  • Where possible, avoid assigning staff on early return to work to vulnerable patients/residents (e.g., immunocompromised, unvaccinated, other underlying risks for severe disease).
  • Prioritize cohorting of staff who are early returned cases to working with COVID-19 positive patients only, due to risk of transmission.
  • PPE and IPAC practices should be reviewed (include audits) to ensure meticulous attention to measures for staff on early return to work.
  • Active screening ahead of each shift and taking temperature twice a day to monitor for fever;
  • Not eating meals in a shared space (e.g., conference room, lunch room) with other staff to reduce risk of exposure to co-workers;
  • Working in only one facility, where possible;
  • Ensuring well-fitting source control masking for the staff on early return to work to reduce the risk of transmission (e.g. a well fitting medical mask or fit or non-fit tested N95 respirators or KN95s).

I have symptoms, or tested positive. How do I self-isolate?

  • Stay at home – do not go to work, school, shopping, or leave your home/property for any reason other than COVID-19 testing or emergency medical care.
  • Stay in a separate room, away from other people in your home as much as possible and use a separate washroom, if possible.
  • Do not have visitors in your home, unless they are essential (e.g. emergency medical services).
  • Wear a mask when you cannot maintain a physical distance of 2 metres from others in your home.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid sharing items that can come into contact with saliva, such as toothbrushes, eating utensils, cups/bottles, towels, bedding.
  • Clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces in your home, including bathroom and toilet surfaces, at least once a day.
  • You may not leave your property during your self-isolation period. Please consider asking a friend/family member for help, using online shopping, or a food delivery service to get your groceries/essentials delivered to you.

What if I am fully vaccinated against COVID-19?

If you have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine and it has been 14 days since your last dose you are considered fully vaccinated. However, as public health works to learn more about the Omicron variant, some individuals may be required to isolate, regardless of vaccination status. Follow instructions above, regardless of your vaccination status.

How is a parent supposed to isolate a young child?

We appreciate isolating a young child can be difficult and sometimes impossible, however there are some things you can do to make the isolation time safer to others in your household. Minimize the time that child has with other members or the family, have all family members wear medical masks and ensure high touch surfaces such as (shared bathrooms, eating and cooking spaces) are cleaned after each use. If a very young child needs to be isolating, often one parent/family member chooses to act as the primary caregiver, reducing risk of exposure for others in the household. For more information, read the How to Care for a Child Who Needs to Self-Isolate fact sheet from Public Health Ontario.How can I manage shared custody and co-parenting while my child self-isolates?

HPEPH recognizes that the pandemic may present unique challenges for families who co-parent or parents who have shared custody arrangements. For tips and suggestions to navigate co-parenting during the pandemic, review the attached fact sheet prepared by Toronto Public Health.

I need help accessing food or medication during my self isolation period. What should I do?

The 211 service will help connect you with support services that can help getting groceries or running errands while you are at home sick or self-isolating. For more information visit 211oncovid19.ca or dial or text, 2-1-1.

Some local food banks and food services may provide delivery services to individuals in need who are required to isolate. For more information, visit our Meal Programs and Food Banks page

I need to self isolate but I am worried I will lose my job. How will I pay my bills?

It is against the law for your employer to fire you if you need to isolate because you have symptoms of COVID-19, tested positive, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Find out more at Ontario.ca.

If you need financial assistance, please review:

I need mental health support. What should I do?

We understand that the pandemic has been challenging, and it can be difficult to self-isolate. Please know that help is available. For more information, please visit or Mental and Emotional Health During COVID-19 page.

Where do I find information on quarantine requirements for travellers entering Canada?

Please visit Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Travel restrictions, exemptions and advice for current information.

I have a complaint about someone not complying with the federal quarantine requirements. Who should I call?

Please report this by calling the federal COVID-19 hot-line at 1-833-784-4397.

Resources for Self-Isolation:

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Effective January 5, Ontario has moved to Modified Step 2 of the Roadmap to Reopen, and students will temporarily pivot to remote learning.  A summary of current restrictions is available at covid-19.ontario.ca/public-health-measures.

SYMPTOMS OR EXPOSURE TO COVID-19?

Visit www.ontario.ca/exposed if you have symptoms of COVID-19, have tested positive, or you are a high risk contact.

COVID-19 VACCINES IN HPEPH

All eligible individuals must book an appointment for an immunization clinic at Ontario.ca/book-vaccine, or make an appointment at a participating local pharmacy. Please visit covid-19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations for location and registration information.

For information about vaccinations for children and youth, visit  hpePublicHealth.ca/covid-19-vaccines-youth.