Self-Isolation Instructions for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last revised on April 5, 2020.

What is self-monitoring?

Self-monitoring is when you monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19 like fever, cough and difficulty breathing. If these symptoms develop, consult the latest guidance on our main COVID-19 page

Learn more about how to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.

What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation is when you are sick with symptoms of COVID-19 and you have been told by a health care provider or Public Health to separate yourself from others, including from the people you live with, to the greatest extent possible. The purpose of self-isolation is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others in your home and your community.

You must isolate yourself for at least 14 days if you have:

  • returned from travel outside Canada
  • been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are waiting to hear the results of a lab test for COVID-19
  • symptoms of COVID-19, even if they are mild
  • been in contact with a suspected, probable or confirmed case of COVID-19

Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health is strongly urging self-isolation for

  • all persons over 70 years of age
  • individuals who are immunocompromised

Self-isolation instructions

The self-isolation instructions vary for each person's situation. Click on the title below that best describes your situation.

Returning from travel WITH symptoms

On March 25, 2020 the Government of Canada issued an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act that requires any person entering Canada by air, sea, or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19.

  • This order will be fully implemented by the Canada Border Services Agency at points of entry.
  • The Government of Canada will use its authority under the Quarantine Act to ensure compliance with the order.
  • Failure to comply with this Order is an offense under the Quarantine Act and can result in a fine.
  • Spot checks will be conducted by the Government of Canada to verify compliance.
  • All individuals permitted to enter Canada are subject to this Order except for certain people who cross the border regularly to ensure the continued flow of goods and services, and those who provide essential services. Individuals exempt from the Order will still need to practice physical distancing and self monitoring and contact their local public health authority if they feel sick.
  • Travel to Canada is also currently being restricted for all foreign nationals coming from any country. These new restrictions prohibit foreign nationals, including U.S. nationals, from entering Canada for non-essential travel. Exemptions to the prohibition exist for certain groups of foreign nationals, for example, temporary foreign workers, some students, and persons delivering urgent medical supplies as long as they do not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.

Listed below are instructions for returning travellers WITH symptoms:

  • If you have recently returned to Canada and you have symptoms, you must isolate immediately. This is mandatory.
  • Go to your place of isolation using private transportation only, such as your personal vehicle. Please refer to the Government of Canada website for more information.
  • If you do not have a place to isolate (or cannot get to your place of isolation using private transportation), you will be required to isolate for 14 days in a facility designated by the Government of Canada.
  • If needed, immediate medical attention will be provided when you arrive in Canada.
  • Wash your hands and put on the mask given to you before leaving the airport. Keep the mask on while in all public settings as you travel home or to your isolation place.
  • Go directly to the place where you will isolate, do not stop anywhere, and stay there for 14 days from the date you arrived in Canada.
  • You may not isolate in a place where there are vulnerable people including people who have a medical condition, compromised immune systems, or who are 65 years of age or older.
  • Leaving your property to go for a walk is not permitted. Stay in a private place like your yard or balcony if you go outside for fresh air. 

Follow general instructions for self-isolation:

  • Limit contact with others in the place of isolation, including children.
  • Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others, if possible.
  • Do not have visitors.
  • Do not leave your place of isolation except to get medical attention.
  • Do not use public transportation (e.g., buses, taxis).
  • Do not go to school, work or other public areas.
  • Do not go into the community, including the grocery store and pharmacy.
  • If you need groceries, medication or other essential items, arrange to have a family member, friend, neighbour, or anyone else who is not in self-isolation do this for you. Have items left at the door to minimize contact.
  • If you have to be in contact with others, practice physical distancing and keep at least 2 metres (6 feet) between yourself and the other person.

Worsening COVID-19 symptoms:

  • If your symptoms are worsening to a point where you cannot manage at home, go to your nearest emergency department and/or call 911. 
Criteria to discontinue self-isolation:
Who When
Those returning from travel WITH symptoms

Fourteen (14) days since your return to Canada OR 14 days after your symptoms started, whichever is longer

AND you have no fever
AND your symptoms are improving
AND you are not a health care worker*

* Please note: health care workers have different criteria for discontinuing self-isolation.

Returning from travel WITHOUT symptoms

On March 25, 2020 the Government of Canada issued an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act that requires any person entering Canada by air, sea, or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19.

  • This order will be fully implemented by the Canada Border Services Agency at points of entry.
  • The Government of Canada will use its authority under the Quarantine Act to ensure compliance with the order.
  • Failure to comply with this Order is an offense under the Quarantine Actand can result in a fine.
  • Spot checks will be conducted by the Government of Canada to verify compliance.
  • All individuals permitted to enter Canada are subject to this Order except for certain people who cross the border regularly to ensure the continued flow of goods and services, and those who provide essential services. Individuals exempt from the Order will still need to practice physical distancing and self monitoring and contact their local public health authority if they feel sick.
  • Travel to Canada is also currently being restricted for all foreign nationals coming from any country. These new restrictions prohibit foreign nationals, including U.S. nationals, from entering Canada for non-essential travel. Exemptions to the prohibition exist for certain groups of foreign nationals, for example, temporary foreign workers, some students, and persons delivering urgent medical supplies as long as they do not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.

Listed below are instructions for returning travellers WITHOUT symptoms:

  • Go directly to the place where you will isolate, do not stop anywhere, and stay in your place of isolation for 14 days from the date you arrived in Canada.
  • You can take public transportation, but you must not make any unnecessary stops on your way home, and you must practice physical distancing at all times.
  • You can take a ride-share, but you must not make any unnecessary stops on your way home. You should sit in the back-seat passenger side, keep the windows down, and practice physical distancing at all times.

Follow general instructions for those on self-isolation:

  • Limit contact with others in the place of isolation, including children.
  • Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others in your home, if possible.
  • Do not have visitors.
  • Do not leave your place of isolation unless it's to get medical attention.
  • Do not use public transportation (e.g., buses, taxis).
  • Do not go to school, work or other public areas.
  • Do not go into the community, including the grocery store and pharmacy.
  • If you need groceries, medication or other essential items, arranged to have a family member, friend, neighbour, or anyone else who is not in self-isolation do this for you. Have items left at the door to minimize contact.
  • If you have to be in contact with others, practice physical distancing and keep at least 2 metres (6 feet) between yourself and the other person. 

Developing COVID-19 symptoms:

  • If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., cough, fever, difficulty breathing), please use the Government of Ontario COVID-19 self-assessment tool to find out how to get  further care.
  • Most people with mild symptoms will recover on their own at home.
  • If your symptoms are worsening to a point where you cannot manage at home, go to your nearest emergency department and/or call 911.
Criteria to discontinue self-isolation:
Who When
Those returning from travel WITHOUT symptoms Fourteen (14) days since your return to Canada 
AND you have not developed any symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, or difficulty breathing)

Individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or waiting to hear the results of a lab test for COVID-19

Follow specific instructions for those with symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Avoid isolating in a place where there are vulnerable people including people who have a medical condition, compromised immune systems, or older adults
  • Leaving your property to go for a walk is not permitted. Stay in a private place like your yard or balcony if you go outside for fresh air.

Follow general instructions for those on self-isolation:

  • Limit contact with others in the place of isolation, including children.
  • Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others in your home, if possible.
  • Do not have visitors.
  • Do not leave your place of isolation unless it's to get medical attention.
  • Do not use public transportation (e.g., buses, taxis).
  • Do not go to school, work or other public areas.
  • Do not go into the community, including the grocery store and pharmacy.
  • If you need groceries, medication or other essential items, arranged to have a family member, friend, neighbour, or anyone else who is not in self-isolation do this for you. Have items left at the door to minimize contact.
  • If you have to be in contact with others, practice physical distancing and keep at least 2 metres (6 feet) between yourself and the other person. 

Monitoring COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Most people with mild symptoms will recover on their own at home.
  • If your symptoms are worsening to a point where you cannot manage at home, go to your nearest emergency department and/or call 911.

Criteria to discontinue self-isolation:

  • Discontinuing self-isolation depends on if you have travelled and on your COVID-19 test result. Please refer to the following table for your situation:
Criteria to discontinue self-isolation:
WhoWhen COVID-19 Test PositiveWhen COVID-19 Test Negative
Those returning from travel  Fourteen (14) days since your return to Canada OR fourteen (14) days after your symptoms started, whichever is longer
AND you have no fever 
AND your symptoms are improving
AND you are not currently admitted to hospital or a health care worker*
Fourteen (14) days since your return to Canada OR fourteen (14) days after your symptoms started, whichever is longer
AND until you confirm that your test result is negative
AND you have no fever 
AND your symptoms are improving
AND you are not a health care worker*
Those with NO travel history  Fourteen (14) days after symptoms started
AND you have no fever 
AND your symptoms are improving
AND you are not currently admitted to hospital or a health care worker*
Fourteen (14) days after symptoms started
AND until you confirm that your test result is negative
AND you have no fever 
AND your symptoms are improving
AND you are not a health care worker*

* Please note: hospitalized patients and health care workers have different criteria for discontinuing self-isolation. Please refer to the Ottawa Public Health website for more information if you are in one of these groups.  

Individuals with symptoms of COVID-19, even if mild

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., cough, fever, difficulty breathing), use this self-assessment tool to find out how to get further care. Please note that most people with mild symptoms will recover on their own at home.

Follow specific instructions for those with symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Avoid isolating in a place where there are vulnerable people including people who have a medical condition, compromised immune systems, or older adults
  • Leaving your property to go for a walk is not permitted. Stay in a private place like your yard or balcony if you go outside for fresh air. 

Follow general instructions for those on self-isolation:

  • Limit contact with others in the place of isolation, including children.
  • Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others in your home, if possible.
  • Do not have visitors.
  • Do not leave your place of isolation unless it's to seek medical attention.
  • Do not use public transportation (e.g., buses, taxis).
  • Do not go to school, work or other public areas.
  • Do not go into the community, including the grocery store and pharmacy.
  • If you need groceries, medication or other essential items, arranged to have a family member, friend, neighbour, or anyone else who is not in self-isolation do this for you. Have items left at the door to minimize contact.
  • If you have to be in contact with others, practice physical distancing and keep at least 2 metres (6 feet) between yourself and the other person. 

Monitoring COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Please note that most people with mild symptoms will recover on their own at home.
  • If your symptoms are worsening to a point where you cannot manage at home, go to your nearest emergency department and/or call 911.

Criteria to discontinue self-isolation:

  • Discontinuing self-isolation depends on your travel history. Please refer to the following table for your situation:
Criteria to discontinue self-isolation:
WhoWhen
Those returning from travel  Fourteen (14) days since your return to Canada OR fourteen (14) days after your symptoms started, whichever is longer
AND you have no fever 
AND your symptoms are improving
AND you are not a health care worker*
Those with NO travel history  Fourteen (14) days after symptoms started
AND you have no fever 
AND your symptoms are improving
AND you are not a health care worker*

* Please note: health care workers have different criteria for discontinuing self-isolation. Please refer to the Ottawa Public Health website for more information.

Individuals who have been told they have been in close contact with a case of COVID-19

Who is a close contact?

  • A person who provided care for the patient, including healthcare workers, family members or other caregivers, or who had other similar close physical contact OR
  • A person who lived with or otherwise had close prolonged contact with a probable or confirmed case while the case was symptomatic.

Follow general instructions for those on self-isolation:

  • Limit contact with others in the place of isolation, including children.
  • Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others in your home, if possible.
  • Do not have visitors.
  • Do not leave your place of isolation unless it's to get medical attention.
  • Do not use public transportation (e.g., buses, taxis).
  • Do not go to school, work or other public areas.
  • Do not go into the community, including the grocery store and pharmacy.
  • If you need groceries, medication or other essential items, arranged to have a family member, friend, neighbour, or anyone else who is not in self-isolation do this for you. Have items left at the door to minimize contact.
  • If you have to be in contact with others, practice physical distancing and keep at least 2 metres between yourself and the other person. 

Monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms:

  • If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., cough, fever, difficulty breathing),  use this self-assessment tool to find out how to get further care.
  • Please note that most people with mild symptoms will recover on their own at home.
  • If your symptoms are worsening to a point where you cannot manage at home, go to your nearest emergency department and/or call 911.

Criteria to discontinue self-isolation:

  • Discontinuing self-isolation depends on whether or not you are still in contact with a case of COVID-19. Please refer to the following table for your situation:
Criteria to discontinue self-isolation:
WhoWhen

Those no longer in contact with a case of COVID-19

(e.g., lives in different household OR lives in same household and can separate by using a separate bedroom and bathroom)
Fourteen (14) days since the last day you had contact with a case of COVID-19
AND you have not developed any symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, or difficulty breathing) 

Those with ongoing contact with a case of COVID-19

(e.g., lives in same household and unable to separate because you continue to share the same bedroom and/or bathroom
Fourteen (14) days from the end of the case of COVID-19’s last day of self-isolation
AND you have not developed any symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, or difficulty breathing)

All persons over 70 years of age

Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health is strongly urging those over the age of 70 to stay at home and self-isolate.

Follow general instructions for those on self-isolation:

  • Limit contact with others in the place of isolation, including children.
  • Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others in your home, if possible.
  • Do not have visitors.
  • Do not leave your place of isolation unless it's to seek medical attention.
  • Do not use public transportation (e.g., buses, taxis).
  • Do not go to school, work or other public areas.
  • Do not go into the community, including the grocery store and pharmacy.
  • If you need groceries, medication or other essential items, arranged to have a family member, friend, neighbour, or anyone else who is not in self-isolation do this for you. Have items left at the door to minimize contact.
  • If you have to be in contact with others, practice physical distancing and keep at least 2 metres (6 feet) between yourself and the other person. 

Developing COVID-19 symptoms:

  • If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., cough, fever, difficulty breathing), please use this self-assessment tool to help determine how to seek further care.
  • If your symptoms are worsening to a point where you cannot manage at home, go to your nearest emergency department and/or call 911.

Discontinuing self-isolation:

  • Please follow the Government of Ontario for recommendations for when adults aged 70 and over can stop self-isolation. 

Those with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions

Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health is strongly urging those with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions to stay at home and self-isolate

Follow general instructions for those on self-isolation:

  • Limit contact with others in the place of isolation, including children.
  • Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others in your home, if possible.
  • Do not have visitors.
  • Do not leave your place of isolation unless it's to seek medical attention.
  • Do not use public transportation (e.g., buses, taxis).
  • Do not go to school, work or other public areas.
  • Do not go into the community, including the grocery store and pharmacy.
  • If you need groceries, medication or other essential items, arranged to have a family member, friend, neighbour, or anyone else who is not in self-isolation do this for you. Have items left at the door to minimize contact.
  • If you have to be in contact with others, practice physical distancing and keep at least 2 metres (6 feet) between yourself and the other person. 

Developing COVID-19 symptoms:

  • If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., cough, fever, difficulty breathing), use the Government of Ontario COVID-19 self-assessment tool to find out how to get further care.
  • If your symptoms are worsening to a point where you cannot manage at home, go to your nearest emergency department and/or call 911

Discontinuing self-isolation:

  • Please follow the Government of Ontario for recommendations for when people with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions can discontinue self-isolation. 

All other Ottawa residents (except those listed above)

Testing for COVID-19 is NOT recommended if a person has no symptoms, regardless of their travel or exposure history.

  • Practice physical distancing. Keep a distance of at least two meters (6 feet) from others.
  • Household contacts (people you live with) do not need to distance from each other unless they are sick or have travelled within the past 14 days.
  • Cancel ALL group gatherings.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand.
  • Connect via phone, video chat, or social media instead of in-person.
  • Talk to your employer about working from home, if possible.
  • Avoid visiting elderly friends or relatives unless the visit is essential.
  • Keep windows down for essential community trips via taxi or rideshares.
  • You can go outside (for example - to take a walk or kick a ball with members of your household, who are already close contacts). While outside, avoid crowds and maintain 2 metres (six feet) from those around you. Passing by someone quickly while outside is not considered close contact. 

Additional Information to Stay Healthy and Safe

Keep your hands clean:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer), and dry with disposable paper towels or dry reusable towel, replacing it when it becomes wet.
  • You can also remove dirt with a wet wipe and then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand

Learn more on how to stop the spread of germs.

Household cleaning and disinfection:

  • At least once a day, clean and disinfect (using regular household cleaners) “high-touch” surfaces that you touch often, like counters, sink tap handles, toilets, bedside tables, doorknobs, phones and television remotes.
  • Do not share personal items with others, such as toothbrushes, towels, bed linen, utensils or electronic devices.
  • Put the lid of the toilet down before flushing.
  • Clean more often if surfaces become visibly soiled.
  • Dishes and eating utensils should be cleaned with dish soap and hot water after each use.
  • Use of a dishwasher with a drying cycle also provides enough cleaning.

Waste management:

  • All waste generated can be bagged in a regular plastic bag and disposed of in regular household waste.

Mental health and wellness:

This is a difficult and challenging time for everyone. It’s ok to not be ok. Reach out to the Distress Centre of Ottawa to connect with someone at 613-238-3311 if you need help or are having trouble coping. For more resources, visit our mental health page.

Supplies to have at home when self-isolating:

  • Face masks (do not re-use), only if you have symptoms and the rest of the people at home do not have symptoms
  • Eye protection (face shield or goggles) for use by caregiver
  • Disposable gloves (do not re-use) for use by caregiver
  • Disposable paper towels
  • Tissues
  • Waste container with plastic liner
  • Thermometer
  • Over the counter medication to reduce fever (e.g., acetaminophen)
  • Running water
  • Hand soap
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol
  • Dish soap
  • Regular laundry soap
  • Regular household cleaning products
  • Hard-surface disinfectant, or if not available, make a solution of concentrated (5%) liquid bleach and water by mixing 10 mL of bleach with 1 litre of water (2 tsp of bleach with 4 cups of water).

Resources:

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