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Guidance

Guidance Information and Guidance for Persons in Quarantine due to COVID-19

Date: 12/07/2020
Organization: Department of Public Health
Referenced Sources: Information and Guidance for Persons in Quarantine due to COVID-19

Updated March 8, 2021

You are required to quarantine (separate yourself) from other people because you have been exposed to the 2019 Novel (New) Coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) the virus that causes COVID-19. If you have COVID-19, you could spread it to people around you and make them sick. Please note that individuals who had COVID-19 in the last 90 days (from day of symptom onset or day of first positive test if asymptomatic), AND individuals who have received either two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines or a single dose of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, at least 14 days ago, are not required to quarantine following an exposure.

The virus is spread through respiratory secretions (mucous and droplets from coughing, sneezing and breathing) from an infected person. Many people can have the virus without ever showing any symptoms, however, it can cause serious illness such as pneumonia (lung infection), and in some rare cases, death. If you are infected, it is possible to spread the virus to others even if you don’t have any symptoms.

This information sheet provides you with information about what to do and not to do while you are in quarantine. If you have questions after reading this, you can call your local Board of Health, or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health which is available 24/7 at 617-983-6800. 

During your quarantine period, you must not have visitors in your home. The other people who live in your home can continue to do their normal activities as long as they are not in contact with you, as described further below, and have not been identified as a close contact and put into quarantine. If you test positive for COVID-19 and someone has come into contact with you, that person will likely need to be quarantined. 

Table of Contents

How long must you quarantine?

The possible incubation period for COVID-19 is still 14 days although the majority of cases have incubation periods of fewer than 10 days1. You will need to remain quarantined consistent with one of the quarantine options below:

Options Criteria Active Monitoring Residual Risk
7 days of strict quarantine

Release on Day 8 if:

  • A test (either PCR or Abbott BinaxNOW antigen) taken on Day 5 or later is negative; AND
  • The individual has not experienced any symptoms up to that point; AND
  • The individual conducts active monitoring through Day 14
Individual must actively monitor symptoms and take temperature once daily. IF even mild symptoms develop or the individual has a temperature of 100.0 F, they must immediately self-isolate, contact the public health authority overseeing their quarantine and get tested. Approximately 5% residual risk of disease development
10 days of strict quarantine

Release on Day 11 if:

  • The individual has not experienced any symptoms up to that point; AND
  • The individual conducts active monitoring through Day 14.
  • No test is necessary under this option
Individual must actively monitor symptoms and take temperature once daily. IF even mild symptoms develop or the individual has a temperature of 100.0 F, they must immediately self-isolate, contact the public health authority overseeing their quarantine and get tested. Approximately 1% residual risk of disease development
14 days of strict quarantine

Release on Day 15 if:

  • The individual has experienced ANY symptoms during the quarantine period EVEN if they have a negative COVID-19 test; OR
  • The individual indicates they are unwilling or unable to conduct active monitoring.
No additional active monitoring required Maximal risk reduction

While you are in quarantine you should follow these instructions

  1. Do not leave your home except for urgent medical care. If you must leave your home for urgent medical care, wear a mask, such as a cloth mask, or a surgical mask if one is available. Call the healthcare provider before you go and tell them that you are quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure. For the protection of others, you should not take public transportation, ride shares (e.g. Uber or Lyft), or taxis to get to your healthcare provider.
  2. Wear a mask, such as a cloth mask, or a surgical mask if one is available, if you must be in contact with other people. Maintain a distance of six feet from others; when this is not possible, limit your time being closer to people to five minutes or less.
  3. Do not have any visitors in your home.
  4. Maintain six feet of distance from other people in your home. If absolutely necessary, have one person help you and do not have contact with other people in your home. Wear a mask, such as a cloth mask, or a surgical mask if one is available, when in the same room as that person. In addition, try to maintain a distance of six feet from others; when this is not possible, limit your time being closer to people to five minutes or less.
  5. If at all possible, use a separate bedroom and bathroom. Do not share towels or bed sheets/blankets with other people in your home. If you have to use a bathroom that other people use, make sure to wipe down all touched surfaces with a disinfectant after every use.
  6. Do not share eating or drinking utensils. Wash utensils normally in a dishwasher or by hand with warm water and soap.
  7. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw tissues away in a lined waste container. Then wash your hands.
  8. Wash your hands frequently using soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time you wash. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Anyone you have to come in contact with (including anyone in your home) should:

  1. Wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds often. If soap and water are not available, they should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  2. Wear a mask, such as a cloth mask, or a surgical mask if one is available. They should be careful to only touch the parts of the mask that go around the ears or behind the head. Do not touch the front of the mask. They should wash their hands immediately after taking the mask off. In addition, they should try to maintain a distance of six feet from you; when this is not possible, limit their time being closer to you to five minutes or less.
  3. Wear disposable gloves if they have to have direct contact with your body fluids (saliva/spit, mucous, urine, feces, vomit) or handle your dirty laundry. Remove the gloves carefully without touching the outside of the gloves, throw the gloves away, and wash their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.

Anyone you have to come in contact with (including anyone in your home) should remain aware of their health and watch themselves for:

  • a fever (temperature over 100.0 degrees). They should take their temperature in the morning and at night.
  • other symptoms such as a cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, chills, muscle or body aches, fatigue, sore throat, headache, congestion or runny nose, new onset loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.

If anyone you came into contact with has any of these symptoms, they should go get tested and then stay home while they wait for results. If they need to seek medical care, they should call their healthcare provider before they go and tell them that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. 

Other advice to keep your germs from spreading

  1. Your disposable gloves, tissues, masks and other trash should be put in a bag, tied closed, and put with other household trash.
  2. Your laundry may be done in a standard washing machine using warm water and detergent. Bleach may be used but is not needed. Do not shake out the dirty laundry.
  3. Surfaces in the home that you touch or that become dirty with your body fluids (saliva/spit, mucous, urine, feces, vomit) should be cleaned and disinfected with a household disinfectant according to the label directions. Wear gloves while cleaning.
  4. Your bathroom should be cleaned every day using a household disinfectant according to the directions on the label. Wear gloves while cleaning.

Questions?

Please call your healthcare provider, your local board of health or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health with any questions.

Download in additional languages

Language PDF Word Document
Albanian Informacion dhe Udhëzime për Personat në Karantinë për Shkak të COVID-19 Accessible Albanian
Arabic Information and Guidance for Persons in Quarantine due to COVID-19 - Arabic Accessible Arabic
Cape Verdean Informason y Guia pa Pessoas na Kuarentena Pamodi COVID-19 Accessible Cape Verdean
Chinese Simplified 向因新冠病毒隔离的人士 提供的信息和指南 Accessible Chinese
Chinese Traditional 向因接觸新冠病毒病患者接受檢疫隔離的個人提供的資訊和指南 Accessible Traditional Chinese
English Information and Guidance for Persons in Quarantine due to COVID-19 Accessible English
French Informations et consignes à l’intention des personnes placées en quarantaine en raison de la COVID-19 Accessible French
Hatian Creole Information and Guidance for Persons in Quarantine due to COVID-19 - Haitian Creole Accessible Haitian Creole
Italian Informazioni e linee guida per le persone in quarantena a causa del COVID-19 Accessible Italian
Khmer ព័ត៌មាន និងឧបទេស សំរាប់មនុស្សឋិតក្នុង ការបង្ខាំងខ្លួន ដោយព្រោះជំងឺ COVID-19 Accessible Khmer
Polish Informacje i wskazówki dla osób objętych kwarantanną z powodu COVID-19 Accessible Polish
Portuguese Informações e orientações para pessoas em quarentena devido à COVID-19 Accessible Portuguese
Romanian Informații și îndrumări pentru persoanele aflate în carantină din cauza COVID-19 Accessible Romanian
Russian Информация и рекомендации для лиц, находящихся в карантине в связи с COVID-19 Accessible Russian
Spanish Información y pautas para personas en cuarentena debido a COVID-19 Accessible Spanish
Vietnamese Thông Tin Và Hướng Dẫn Cho Người Bị Cách Ly Do Nhiễm COVID-19 Accessible Vietnamese

Based on observational and published data, and recent modeling work conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if shortened quarantine periods result in increased compliance with contact tracing and adherence to quarantine recommendations, the small risk that someone may develop COVID-19 after a shortened strict quarantine period is outweighed by the expected benefit of reduced transmission from the increased cooperation.

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