Advice on what to do if you are a close contact.

If you have coronavirus visit What to do if I have coronavirus for more information.

Support is available if you need help while in isolation. See Isolation and quarantine extra help and support.

On this page

Who should quarantine (stay at home)?

You should quarantine at home if: 

  1. you may have spent time or live with some who has tested positive for coronavirus
  2. you may have spent time or live with someone who may have been exposed to the virus at work, school or somewhere else
  3. you yourself may have been exposed to the virus at work, school or somewhere else
  4. you may have symptoms of the virus and are waiting for your test result. After your test you must go home immediately. You cannot go anywhere else after your test
  5. you have been directed to do so by the Department of Health and Human Services

What is quarantine?

Quarantine means you must stay in your home. You cannot leave your house for any reason unless it is an emergency or you need medical help. 

DHHS will call you and tell you when you can finish your quarantine. You can only leave your home after DHHS gives you permission. 

You will be required to quarantine if you are an international traveller - please see the international travellers section on this website. 

Who is a close contact?

Close contacts are either a primary close contact or a secondary close contact.

Generally, a ‘primary 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 person diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • in some circumstances, close contacts might be defined based on shorter interactions.

A ‘secondary 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 primary close contact of a person diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19)

Close contact can happen in many ways, such as:

  • 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 person diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • being in the same room or office for two hours or more
  • face-to-face contact for more than 15 minutes in a closed setting such as a car, lift or public transport.

If a person is a determined as a primary or secondary close contact the Department of Health and Human Services will notify them as soon as possible.

Primary close contacts must quarantine at home and get tested.

Secondary close contacts are also now being asked to quarantine at home. This change has been made to:

  • identify people who may have been in contact with a diagnosed case and are at risk of infection. Identifying people early helps ensure that they don’t further spread coronavirus (COVID-19), and
  • help find who the diagnosed case caught coronavirus (COVID-19) from, if not already known, and make sure anyone else who has been in contact with them is also quarantined.

Doing this will make a significant difference to the speed with which new outbreaks can be identified and contained.

Read What to do if you have been in close contact with someone with coronavirus (COVID-19) factsheet (Word) for more information.

I think I am a close contact – what should I do?

If you think you may have had close contact with a person diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) or may otherwise be a ‘close contact’, we recommend that you contact the COVID-19 hotline on 1800 675 398. You should stay at home until the Department of Health and Human Services determines if you are a close contact.

I visited a place that I know had a positive coronavirus (COVID-19) case (such as a school or workplace). Do I need to quarantine?

If you have any symptoms, no matter how mild, you should immediately get tested and self-isolate.

  • You only need to quarantine if you have been identified as a primary or secondary close contact. People who are determined to be close contacts will be contacted by the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • The notice can be given verbally (such as over the phone or in person) but will be followed up in writing (such as in a text message).
  • The Department of Health and Human Services will support people through this process.
  • Close contacts are determined through interviews that the Department of Health and Human Services undertakes with people diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) and with primary close contacts.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services works with each person to determine who they have been in contact with (including while they were infectious or potentially infectious) and determines whether such people are close contacts. 

The written notice will provide more information about how long you should quarantine for. Your obligations and what to do if you develop symptoms. It will also include advice for the people you live with and information about getting testing on or about Day 11 (or later) of your quarantine.

I am quarantining and I am staying at home – what if I live with other people?

  • You should stay and sleep in a different room to other people as much as possible. For example, you should not eat dinner or watch TV with the other people you live with.
  • You should use a separate bathroom if available.
  • You cannot have people visit you inside your home or accommodation.
  • Ensure you stay at least 1.5 metres from others in the home when you are out of your room.
  • Wear a mask when you are out of your room.
  • Do not share food and drink. Do not share household items like forks, knives, plates or glasses.

How long does quarantine last?

The length of quarantine varies depending on the reason people must do it. Generally:

  • If you have returned from overseas quarantine is 14 days, or 24 days if you refuse to be tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) on the request of an Authorised Officer.
  • If you are a primary close contact you need to quarantine for at least 14 days – however, your quarantine ends at the time specified in your close contact notice from the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • If you are a secondary close contact the Department of Health and Human Services will assess when you can leave quarantine. This will often be shorter than 14 days.

The incubation period for coronavirus (COVID-19) is up to 14 days. This means that within the time of 14 days after your last close contact with someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19) you could develop symptoms.

More information about financial support available for those in isolation or quarantine available on Help and Support.

How to quarantine

I’ve been told to quarantine – what should I do?

  1. If you have symptoms you should get tested. Once you have been tested you must go home and wait for your results.
  2. If you test positive, or you are a close contact of someone with coronavirus then you will be notified by the Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. When notified, if you are not at the place where you will quarantine, you must go there immediately and stay there. You must not make any stops on the way home.
  4. If you are unsure where you should quarantine or do not have a place where you can do so safely, you should call the dedicated Victorian coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398.
  5. An officer from the Department of Health and Human Services will call you to support you through your quarantine 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.
  6. Tell the people you live with that you are quarantining at home. This is important as they will need to quarantine themselves.
  7. Support is available to help you stay at home. For more information visit Isolation and quarantine extra help and support.

What do I do if I feel well during quarantine?

Even if you feel well, you need to remain in quarantine until you are cleared by the Department of Health and Human Services.

What do I do if I feel unwell or have symptoms during quarantine?

If you start to feel unwell or have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) during or at the end of your 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
  • make an appointment to see your General Practitioner (GP). Call ahead to your GP before you arrive at your GP’s office so they can prepare appropriate infection control measures.

In either circumstance, you should disclose that you are a close contact of a person with coronavirus (COVID-19) and that you are in quarantine.

If you have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance. In either circumstance, you should disclose that you are a close contact of a person with coronavirus (COVID-19) and that you are in quarantine.

Can I go outside during quarantine?

While you are in quarantine you need to stay at home (or the other suitable place where you are quarantining).

  • If you are quarantining in a private house or apartment you can go into your garden or onto your balcony. You should wear a face mask when moving through shared spaces to reduce the risk of passing coronavirus to the people you live with.
  • You are permitted to leave home (or the other suitable place) to seek medical care.
  • You are permitted to leave home (or the other suitable place) in an emergency or if required by law or for other limited reasons.
  • If you or your children are escaping harm or are at risk of harm from family violence, you can leave your home (or the other suitable place) to seek support and assistance. Call safe steps on 1800 015 188 or email safesteps@safesteps.org.au for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You must wear a fitted face mask when you leave home (or the other suitable place) for any of these reasons.

You are not allowed to leave your home (or the other suitable place) for any other non-permitted reason, including shopping or exercise, while you are in quarantine.

If you become unwell or have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), you should immediately seek medical advice and get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Can I visit someone in hospital while I am in quarantine?

In general, you are not permitted to leave your place of quarantine, including to visit other people. However in special 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 currently in quarantine.

If you want to visit someone in hospital while you are in quarantine you should speak to the officer from the Department of Health and Human Services who contacts you regularly to check in with you.

Can I leave home?

While you quarantine:

  • You are not allowed to leave home for shopping or exercise.
  • You can only leave home to get medical care or medical supplies, to get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19), in an emergency, or in other limited circumstances.
  • If you or your children are escaping harm or are at risk of harm from family violence, you can leave your home (or the other suitable place) to seek support and assistance. Call safe steps on 1800 015 188 or email safesteps@safesteps.org.au for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • You must not allow anyone else to enter your home unless:
    • they normally live there
    • they are also quarantining or isolating there
    • other limited circumstances (such as medical or emergency purposes or to provide personal care, a disability service or household assistance to support a person who needs help due to their age, disability or chronic health condition).

If you are quarantining in a private house or apartment you can go into your garden or onto your balcony. You should wear a face mask when moving through shared spaces to reduce the risk of passing coronavirus to the people you live with.

How do I get food or other supplies such as medication while I am in 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. See Isolation and quarantine extra help and support.

I need assistance from a carer, can I get help while in quarantine?

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 at home before they visit.

A service provider or carer will need to wear a fitted face mask while visiting your home.

Can I receive deliveries during 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.

Can I leave home to exercise?

No. If you are a close contact, you cannot leave your home to exercise. Penalties apply.

Leaving quarantine and getting tested

I have symptoms and am waiting for a test result – how do I know when I can stop quarantining?

Until you receive your test result – this typically takes 1 to 3 days. If your test result is negative you no longer need to quarantine (unless you are a close contact, in which case you must wait for the Department of Health and Human Services to notify you that you no longer need to quarantine). If you are unwell, you should stay home even after a negative test result until you are better.

I am a close contact – how do I know when I can stop quarantining?

Your quarantine ends at the time specified in your close contact notice from the Department of Health and Human Services.

You will need to get tested on or about Day 11 of your quarantine.

Testing is required on Day 11 of your quarantine because you are most likely to become infected within 14 days of your contact with the person diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you do not wish to be tested, then your quarantine period will be extended a further 10 days, making your quarantine period a total of 24 days.

If you agree to be tested and your test is negative (and provided that your initial 14 day quarantine period has ended), your extended quarantine period ends when you are notified by the Department of Health and Human Services.

If you agree to be tested and your test is positive, you become a person diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) and you will be required to isolate. The Department of Health and Human Services will regularly check on you and your symptoms and tell you when you can stop isolating. View how to isolate for more information.

I am a secondary close contact – how do I know when I can stop quarantining?

The Department of Health and Human Services will assess whether and when you can be cleared, depending on the circumstances. This will likely be shorter than 14 days, including if your close contact gets a negative test result.

I am a close contact – what happens if I don’t get tested on Day 11?

From 11:59pm 11 October 2020, if you are a close contact of a person diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) and you refuse to get tested on or about Day 11 (or later) of your initial quarantine period, your initial period of quarantine will be extended by 10 days. This period can be varied in certain circumstances. This is to ensure that you do not come out of quarantine while potentially infectious.

If you have refused to get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) on or around Day 11, you can change your mind at any time and agree be tested for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Why am I being asked to get a test if I don’t have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms?

You could have coronavirus (COVID-19) even though you feel well and may not have any symptoms. 

Close contacts are one of the highest risk groups for coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

Why is testing on or about Day 11 (or later) important?

Day 11 testing of close contacts of people diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) is important because close contacts are one of the highest risk groups for having coronavirus (COVID-19). By getting tested you help to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Victoria.

The incubation period for coronavirus (COVID-19) is up to 14 days.

How do I get a test?

Visit getting tested for information on how to get tested and to find out where your nearest testing location is.

Testing is free.

Testing is accessible to anyone with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or to close contacts, even if they do not have any symptoms. You do not need to be a citizen or a permanent resident of Australia to access testing. You do not need a Medicare card.

While you wait for your test results you need to continue quarantining at home. It normally takes 1-3 days to get your results.

How long do I have to quarantine if I live with someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19)?

You will need to quarantine from the time when the Department of Health and Human Services asks you to commence quarantine, until you are cleared. Often, this is about 14 days, but it may be a shorter or longer period, depending on your circumstances. In most cases, the period of quarantine will be linked to your last contact with a person diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) or other relevant person.

  • If you live with someone diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) and can avoid continued close contact:
    If you can avoid contact with the person diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) by staying in separate bedrooms and using separate facilities, then do so as this may reduce the time you need to quarantine for.
  • If you live with someone diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) and cannot avoid continued close contact: 
    If you cannot avoid contact because you provide care to the person diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) or cannot keep a physical distance, then you may quarantine for longer.

If you live with a person diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) and then you become a person diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19), you will be required to isolate. The Department of Health and Human Services will regularly check on you and your symptoms and tell you when you can stop isolating.

How to care for those in quarantine

How do you care for someone who is sick during quarantine?

If you are looking after a sick family member and they are in quarantine, 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.

Enforcing quarantine

Will someone check that I am staying at home?

Someone from the Department of Health and Human Services will contact you regularly to check in and see how you are. They may do this using SMS or a phone call.

Police are conducting random spot checks to ensure people who are in quarantine are complying with directions by staying at home. Police can take enforcement action if necessary.

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 mask and do not have a lawful reason can be fined $200.