Quarantining prevents the ongoing spread of the virus to other people by individuals who know they have been exposed or are likely to have been exposed, but do not yet know if they have been infected. It’s a precaution and an effective tool to prevent viral spread since people infected with COVID-19 can be contagious even without having symptoms.
Quarantine applies to people who have had close contact with a person who either has a positive test or symptoms — even early symptoms — of illness.
How long should quarantining last?
People who have regular close contact with high risk individuals. This includes peopel who live or work in residential or congregate living facilities.
For 14 days after exposure, regardless of your quarantine length, you should:
- Watch for symptoms of COVID-19.
- If you have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact your local public health authority or health care provider.
- Wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet from others, wash your hands, avoid crowds, and take other precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Avoid contact with high-risk individuals.
This quarantine period is appropriate for most people who do not have contact with high risk individuals.
People who do not have contact with high risk individuals and have a negative test collected 48 hours before quarantine is discontinued (on day 5 or later).
Do I need to quarantine if I have already had COVID-19?
- For most people, if you have had a positive molecular or antigen COVID-19 test in the 90 days before your exposure, quarantine is not required.
- If you are exposed to someone with a variant that is more likely to cause reinfection, you may be required to quarantine, even if you have been recently infected.
- Whether or not you are in quarantine, watch for symptoms for 14 days after exposure. If symptoms develop, isolate and get tested.
Do I need to quarantine if I have been vaccinated?
- For most people, if a full two weeks has passed since you completed a vaccine series, you do not need to quarantine if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19. The exception is if you live in a congregate setting (such as a correctional facility or homeless shelter). In that case, you should still quarantine and get tested after exposure even after you are fully vaccinated. This is because residents of congregate settings may face high turnover, a higher risk of transmission, and challenges in maintaining recommended physical distancing.
- If it has been less than two weeks since you completed the vaccine series, you should quarantine if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19.
- We recommend that you get a COVID-19 test three to five days after exposure and wear a mask in public for 14 days after exposure or until you have a negative test result. These precautions will help protect the people around you in the rare case of a breakthrough infection.
- Whether or not you are in quarantine, watch for symptoms for 14 days after exposure. If symptoms develop that are not likely to be side effects from a recent vaccine dose, isolate and get tested, even if you have a previous negative test result.