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What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?
Both isolation and quarantine measures reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19). These are also referred to as self-isolation and self-quarantine.
- Isolation separates people with coronavirus (COVID-19) from people who do not have the virus.
- People who have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) must isolate at home.
- People who have been tested because they have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), should isolate at home while waiting for their test result, even if they no longer have those symptoms.
- Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who have been or may have been exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19):
- People who are living with a person diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) must quarantine at home.
- People who are a close contact of a confirmed case (including a person who lives with a diagnosed person) of coronavirus (COVID-19) must quarantine at home.
- People returning from overseas must complete mandatory quarantine in a hotel.
Police are conducting random spot checks to ensure people who are in quarantine (close contacts of people with coronavirus) or isolation (people with coronavirus) are complying with directions by staying at home. Police can take enforcement action if necessary.
What does isolation or quarantine at home involve?
If you're in quarantine at home or a confirmed case in isolation:
- You must stay at home. There are only a few legal reasons for you to leave including seeking medical help or in an emergency:
- If you do need to leave your home – for example, to seek emergency medical care – you must wear a mask.
You are not allowed to leave your home to exercise while you are in isolation or quarantine.
How long does isolation and quarantine last?
The length of isolation and quarantine varies depending on the reason people must do it. Generally:
- Isolation for positive test result of coronavirus (COVID-19) is at least 10 days – however this depends on how long the person has the virus and obtaining DHHS clearance when recovered.
- Quarantine because you have returned from overseas is 14 days, or 24 days if you refuse to be tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) on the request of an Authorised Officer.
- Quarantine because you are a close contact is usually 14 days – however, your quarantine ends at the time specified in your close contact notice from the Department of Health and Human Services.
More information about financial support available for those in isolation or quarantine is below.
I have coronavirus (COVID-19) and am isolating at home – what if I live with other people?
- You should stay in a different room to other people as much as possible.
- Sleep in a separate bedroom and use a separate bathroom if available.
- You must not allow other people into the home if they don't live there, unless they are there to provide medical, personal care or household assistance.
- Ensure you stay at least 1.5 metres from others in the home.
- Everyone in the household should continue practising good hygiene through washing hands regularly and coughing or sneezing into their elbow or tissue.
- Do not share food and drink. Do not share household items like crockery, plates or glasses.
How do I get food or other supplies such as medication while I am in isolation or quarantine?
If you don’t live with others, you should order food or supplies to be delivered to your house, or have friends, family or your carer drop off supplies to your house. Anyone delivering these items should not enter your house or come in contact with you – if possible, they should leave the supplies at the front of your door. This is to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19).
Support is available if you need help while in isolation or quarantine. Visit Extra Help.
I need assistance from a carer, can I get help while in quarantine or isolation?
If you need assistance due to your age, disability or a chronic health condition then a service provider, carer, family member or friend can visit your home and provide you with assistance. You should tell your service provider you are in quarantine or isolation at home before they visit.
A service provider or carer will need to wear a face covering while visiting your home.
Can I receive deliveries during isolation or quarantine?
Yes, although the delivery person should leave your delivery outside your door. They should not enter your home or come close to you in any way. Consider making payment for the delivery online in advance or using a contactless payment method to minimise the chances of physical contact. Avoid paying by cash.
What are the penalties for non-compliance?
If you test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) you must isolate until you receive clearance from the Department of Health and Human Services. If you have been identified as a close contact you must quarantine for 14 days since your last contact with a positive case.
A fine of $4,957 can be issued to a person found to have breached the requirement to isolate or quarantine for a second or subsequent time.
Victoria Police can issue on the spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 for businesses for:
- Refusing or failing to comply with the emergency directions
- Refusing or failing to comply with a public health risk power direction
- Refusing or failing to comply with the Public Health Directions to provide information.
Fines of up to $20,000 for individuals and $100,000 for businesses are possible through the court system. Individuals who do not wear a face covering and do not have a lawful reason can be fined $200.
Isolation – if you have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19)
If you have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), you must isolate in your home immediately unless you are admitted to a hospital or other facility for medical care.
When notified, if you are not at the place where you will isolate, you must go there immediately and begin isolation, without making any stops.
An officer from the Department of Health and Human Services will call you to support you through your isolation period. They will talk to you about who you have been in contact with and where you have been to help them identify your close contacts.
Read the What to do if you've tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) factsheet (Word) for more information.
When do I isolate?
When you are informed of a positive diagnosis of coronavirus (COVID-19) you must immediately and directly travel to the place where you will isolate, without making any stops unless you are admitted to a hospital or other facility for medical care.
Do I need to do anything else?
After you are diagnosed you must tell anyone else living at the place where you will isolate that you have been diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) and tell them that you have chosen to isolate there. This is important as they will need to quarantine themselves.
You will be called by an officer from the Department of Health and Human Services after your positive diagnosis – you will need to provide them the address of the place you will isolate and provide the name of any other people residing at the premises.
How long do I isolate?
You must isolate until you receive a clearance from the Department of Health and Human Services. The officer from the department who calls you will explain what this means and answer any questions you may have.
You will be able to leave isolation when all of the following criteria have been met:
- The department has conducted an assessment and deems that your isolation may end. They will provide you with written clearance.
- at least 10 days have passed since your symptoms began for mild illness, or 14 days for more severe illness (such as if hospitalisation was required).
- you have not had any fever or respiratory symptoms from coronavirus (COVID-19) for the previous 72 hours.
Once the department, or an authorised health worker, has assessed that you meet the appropriate criteria to be cleared, you will be provided written clearance and are no longer required to isolate. You will be able to return to your normal activities, in line with to the restrictions in place at your location.
You must continue to isolate until you are cleared.
Will I need to be tested again?
While all people who tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) must isolate until the Department of Health and Human Services clears them, most people will not need to be tested again.
Current evidence suggests that generally people are no longer infectious after 10 days have passed since their symptoms first started.
The department will advise you to be tested again if you:
- are significantly immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system prone to infection) or
- have been severely ill requiring hospitalisation and have persistent symptoms.
Can I leave home to exercise?
No. If you are a confirmed as having coronavirus, you cannot leave your home to exercise. Penalties apply.
Isolation – for those who have been tested and are waiting for the test result
If you have been tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) because you have a symptom or symptoms, you should isolate in your home until you receive your test result (even if you no longer have any symptoms). This is also referred to as ‘self-isolating’.
When do I isolate?
As soon as you have been tested, you must return to the place you are isolating immediately and remain there until you receive your test result.
How long do I isolate for?
Until you receive your test result – this typically takes 1 to 3 days – and only if it is negative. If you are unwell, you should stay home even after a negative test result until you are better.
What if my coronavirus (COVID-19) test was negative?
If you are feeling well, you are able to go about your normal activity, following the restrictions for your location. You can find out the current restrictions that apply to your area on the restriction levels page.
If you are unwell, you should stay home even after a negative test result until you are better.
If your symptoms persist, you should get another test.
Who is required to quarantine?
You are required to quarantine if:
- You live with a person who has been diagnosed as positive with coronavirus (COVID-19) and are determined to be a close contact.
- You have come into close contact with a person who is confirmed to have coronavirus (COVID-19). These cases are called ‘close contacts’.
- You have been advised by the Department of Health and Human Services that you are a close contact because you have been exposed to an ‘exposure site’, such as your workplace being shut down because a staff member has had coronavirus.
- You are an international traveller - please see the international travellers section on this website.
How long do I have to quarantine if I live with a person diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19)?
You should quarantine for 14 days - the quarantine period begins depending on your circumstances:
- If you live with someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19) and can avoid continued close contact: If you have no further contact with that person since they began isolation (because they are staying in a separate bedroom and using separate facilities), then you need to quarantine for 14 days since your last contact with them.
- If you live with someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19) and cannot avoid continued close contact: You should avoid contact with others outside the home while the person is sick and quarantine for 14 days after the person who has coronavirus (COVID-19) meets the criteria to end their isolation. This may be in cases where you are providing care to the person who has coronavirus (COVID-19) or cannot keep a physical distance.
If you live with a diagnosed person and you are then diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19), you stop being in quarantine and you must go into isolation until you receive a clearance certificate from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Who is a close contact?
Close contact means having face-to-face contact for more than 15 minutes or sharing a closed space for more than two hours with a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) when they were infectious.
Close contact can happen in many ways, but examples include:
- Living in the same household or household-like setting (for example, a boarding school or hostel)
- Direct contact with the body fluids or laboratory specimens of a confirmed case
- Being in the same room or office for two hours or more
- Face-to-face contact for more than 15 minutes in some other setting such as in a car or a lift or sitting next to them on public transport.
If a person is a close contact, the Department of Health and Human Services will get in contact to tell them they are a close contact of a person who is confirmed to have coronavirus (COVID-19). A close contact must quarantine at home. If the person is not at their home when they receive a notice to quarantine, the person must immediately and directly travel there without making stops.
Read the What to do if you have been in close contact with someone with coronavirus (COVID-19) factsheet (Word) for more information.
I attended a place which I know had a positive coronavirus (COVID-19) case (such as a school or workplace). Do I need to quarantine?
Not necessarily, as it depends whether you had contact with a confirmed case while they were infectious. However, if you have any symptoms, no matter how mild, you should immediately get tested.
People who are considered close contacts need to quarantine. People who are considered close contacts will be contacted by the Department of Health and Human Services to advise they need to go into quarantine and support them through this process.
Close contacts are determined through interviews the Department of Health and Human Services undertake with people who have been diagnosed as positive. They work with that person to determine who they have been in contact with while they were infectious and determine whether those people are considered close contacts.
If a person is a close contact, the Department of Health and Human Services will contact them to advise they are a close contact of a person who is confirmed to have coronavirus (COVID-19).
How long do I have to quarantine if I am a close contact?
If you are notified that you are a close contact, you must quarantine at home until the date stated in the notice from the Department of Health and Human Services.
What if I live with someone who is in quarantine?
If that person stays well, there is no need for you to also quarantine.
If they become unwell, they should seek medical advice and get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19).
If a person you live with tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), you will be treated as a close contact of a confirmed case and will be required to quarantine.
What do I do if I feel well during quarantine?
Even if you feel well while in quarantine, you need to complete the full quarantine period.
If, at the end of specified quarantine period, you remain well, you can leave quarantine. No medical certificate is required to enable you to return to other activities.
Can I be tested early to shorten the time I’m in quarantine?
No. The incubation period for coronavirus (COVID-19) is up to 14 days. If a test taken during this time was negative, while you feel well, it does not mean that you may not develop coronavirus (COVID-19).
What do I do If I feel unwell during quarantine?
If you start to feel unwell, and especially if you develop any of the typical symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) during the quarantine period, you should either:
- call the dedicated Victorian coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398 (24 hours, 7 days a week) for advice
- call ahead to your GP before you arrive at the doctor’s office so they can prepare appropriate infection control measures
- In either circumstances, you should mention any recent contact with a person confirmed to have coronavirus (COVID-19).
If you have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance. You should disclose any recent contact with a person confirmed to have coronavirus (COVID-19).
If, at the end of your quarantine period, you are unwell with respiratory symptoms, you must continue to stay in quarantine. Call the dedicated Victorian coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398 (24 hours, 7 days a week) to find out what you should do next.
Can I go outside during quarantine?
While you are in quarantine you need to stay at home.
- You are permitted to leave your property to seek medical care.
- You are permitted to leave your property in an emergency or if required by law.
- If you or your children are escaping harm or are at risk of harm from family violence, you can leave your home to seek support and assistance. Call safe steps on 1800 015 188 or email email@example.com for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- You must wear a face covering when you leave home.
You are not allowed to leave your home to exercise while you are in isolation or quarantine.
Can I visit someone in hospital while I am in quarantine?
In limited circumstances someone who is in quarantine can visit a patient in hospital. This includes if they are the parent or guardian of a child or minor who is in hospital, to support someone giving birth, or to support someone who is dying. Each hospital will determine the conditions, including any necessary safeguards for visitors who are in quarantine.
Can I receive deliveries during quarantine?
Yes, although you should maintain appropriate physical distancing from the delivery person, and they should not enter your home. They should leave your delivery outside your door. Consider making payment for the delivery online in advance or using a contactless payment method to minimise the chances of physical contact. Avoid paying by cash.
How to care for those in isolation or quarantine
How do you care for someone who is sick during a period of isolation or quarantine?
If you are looking after a sick family member and they are in quarantine or isolation, there are some important things you should do to keep everyone in your home safe:
- Ensure the sick person remains in one room away from others in the household.
- Keep their door closed and windows open where possible.
- Keep the number of carers to a minimum and do not allow visitors from outside the household to visit.
- Always wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser before and after entering the room.
- Keep the sick person's crockery and utensils separate from the rest of the household.
- If available, wear a surgical mask (single-use face mask) when you are in the sick person's room.
- Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces such as tabletops, doors, computer keyboards, taps and handles often.
- Dispose of tissues and masks in a sealed plastic bag and put in the usual household waste.
- When washing clothes do not shake the sick person’s laundry. You should wash their clothes using a hot water wash with your usual detergent. You should wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser after handling their laundry. Let their clothes dry completely.
- If the person starts to feel worse, call the dedicated Victorian coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398 (24 hours, 7 days a week) for advice.
- If you need to visit your GP, call ahead and mention that you are currently in quarantine so they can prepare appropriate infection control measures.
If the person you are caring for develops serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.
How can I care for others around me who are in isolation or quarantine?
Think about elderly friends, neighbours, and people with a disability in your community and how you can support each other during a period of quarantine or isolation. If you are not currently in quarantine or isolation but family or friends are, think about how you might be able to help them out, such as regularly checking in by phone or by supporting them to get food and other necessities.
Extra help and support
If you are worried you will lose income while you wait for your test result, you may be eligible for a $450 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test Isolation Payment. This payment provides financial support if you are in self-isolation and waiting for your test results.
If you test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) and are worried you will lose income while isolating, you may be eligible for the $1500 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Worker Support Payment. This payment provides financial support while you are quarantining at home as instructed by the Department of Health and Human Services.
What support is available for people in isolation or quarantine?
If you are in isolation or quarantine, stay in regular contact with your close family and friends and ask them to get food, medicines or other necessities for you when you’re running low. You can also contact your local council who can support you in accessing services that meet your needs. Visit Know Your Council website to find your council.
If you don’t have nearby support to help you do this, call the Victorian coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398. Delivery of a free emergency relief package can be arranged for people who are unable to access food themselves or do not have support available to them.
What are the emergency relief packages?
An emergency relief package contains essential food and personal care items that are available to vulnerable Victorians who are needing to quarantine or isolation due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
The packages will help make sure people are able to access essential items while they quarantine or isolate.
Emergency relief packages contain essential food staples including cereal, long-life milk, sugar, pasta and canned vegetables.
Personal care items such as soap, deodorant and toothpaste are also provided as part of the packages. Nappies and baby formula can be provided if requested.
The packages do not include medicines, incontinence and personal hygiene products, or pet food.
Who is eligible to receive an emergency relief package?
People currently residing in Victoria who need to quarantine or isolate due to coronavirus (COVID-19) and don’t have enough food to feed themselves or their families may be eligible to receive an emergency relief package of basic supplies.
People need to be currently residing in Victoria, including residents, international students and people on working visas who live in Victoria.
These packages contain only basic supplies and are for people who do not have access to a support network or alternate means of obtaining food such as online delivery.
Wherever possible, we're asking all Victorians to arrange for family or friends who are not required to quarantine or isolate to get food or necessities for you.
How can people in need get an emergency relief package?
If you are in urgent need and don't have a support network who can help you, call the Victorian coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398 and select Option 8. The operating hours are 8.00am to 8.00pm Monday to Friday, and 9.00am to 6.00pm Saturday and Sunday (excluding Victorian Public Holidays).
People can also call on behalf of someone they know who is quarantining or isolating and in urgent need of food supplies.
How long will the emergency relief package last?
Each emergency food relief package is designed to provide basic food essentials and personal care items for a family of four for two weeks.
How much will it cost for a relief package?
The relief packages will be provided at no cost.
Will people be able to choose brands or specific items?
These packages are made up of basic essentials only and people do not have a choice as to what products are provided. We may not be able to cater for dietary or cultural requirements.
What if a person is too sick to cook for themselves?
If people are unable to cook for themselves, their details can be provided to their local council who may offer food services or connection into local programs.
How will the relief packages be distributed?
Emergency relief packages will be distributed by partner organisations including the Red Cross, and Foodbank Victoria.
Packages will be delivered to the door of people who are in quarantine or isolation. Deliveries should arrive within 24 to 48 hours, depending on location.
What other support for accessing food is available?
Individuals who are self-isolating can order urgent food for delivery through platforms such as Deliveroo or Uber Eats – who also offer contactless delivery. They offer many food options, can cater to dietary requirements and operating hours are noted against each food premise. Some food delivery apps can also deliver supermarket items.
Coles Online Priority Service (COPS)
The Coles Online Priority Service (COPS) provides a delivery service and ‘click and collect’ option for customers unable to get to a store. Existing Coles Online and FlyBuys customers who are aged over 70 and had previously registered their date of birth as part of their account details have been invited to join COPS. The service is also available to:
- People over 65 years of age with a My Aged Care number or NDIS number;
- Indigenous Australians over the age of 50 with a My Aged Care number or NDIS number;
- Aged care, disability care and other businesses that support vulnerable community members
IGA Shop Online now provides a home delivery service to many areas, from local participating stores. IGA Shop Online is open to anyone where a participating IGA store able to deliver in their location. Visit www.igashop.com.au
Woolworths Priority Assistance
Woolworths are supporting vulnerable customers in the community to have access to delivery through their Priority Assistance service with dedicated delivery windows. Eligible customers include seniors, people with a disability and those with compromised immunity or who are required to self-isolate.
To register for Priority Assistance or call 1800 000 610 go to https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/discover/priorityassistance
Woolworths Community Pickup
Individuals can pick up online orders for themselves or on behalf of someone they care for at more than 900 Community Pick up locations in Woolworths stores. Pick up is contactless and will be in reusable bags. Go to https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/discover/shopping-online/pickup to place a pick-up order.
Food relief services in the community
Food relief programs are available for people experiencing financial hardship across Victoria. Local services and programs can be located through:
- Ask Izzy is a free and anonymous website that lists local food charities using postcode or suburb name search criteria. Refer to: https://askizzy.org.au/food/
- Local Councils may offer food services or provide information about local programs. Refer to: https://knowyourcouncil.vic.gov.au/
- COVID Hotline: the Victorian Government is working with key partners like the Red Cross and Foodbank Victoria to provide basic food and essential item relief packs for vulnerable Victorians who are in mandatory isolation and have no other means to source food. Phone: 1800 675 398.
- Pet food - can be ordered online from Pet Stores, i.e. Pet Stock, My Pet Warehouse, or contact local pet stores to check if they offer delivery.
- Adult Incontinence Items - can be ordered online via My Chemist Warehouse, Priceline or other online pharmacies. Contact local pharmacies to check if they offer delivery.