Isolation and quarantine are used routinely in Massachusetts to control the spread of communicable diseases. Isolation refers to separating people who are ill from other people to prevent the spread of a communicable disease. Quarantine refers to separating and restricting the movement of people who have been exposed to a communicable disease and are not yet ill.

This web site is an online resource for those who are responsible for protecting the public health, including health care providers, public health nurses, health directors, school nurses, emergency medical technicians, etc.

Helpful Background Documents

Specific Professional Responsibilities or Jurisdictional Issues

Isolation and Quarantine Case Study Examining Fictitious Mass Exposure to an Infectious Agent

Technical Resources that Include Information about Isolation and Quarantine

Legal Documents for Use by Municipal Attorneys and Local Boards of Health When Ordering and Enforcing Isolation

In most instances, local boards of health will be able to obtain voluntarily compliance with isolation or quarantine. If all means of eliciting voluntary compliance have failed, local boards of health may need to work with their municipal attorneys to obtain a court order to place a person in isolation or quarantine. The majority of the documents listed below were developed specifically for use in seeking a court order for the isolation of a person infected with SARS; however they may be modified to address other diseases. Documents are available in Rich-Text Format (RTF).

Obtaining Voluntary Compliance

Administrative Enforcement of Isolation or Quarantine

Enforcement of Isolation or Quarantine through Superior Court

Background on the Court Process

Papers to be Filed in Court


This information is provided by Epidemiology Program within the Department of Public Health.