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COVID-19 isolation and quarantine information

Isolating and quarantining are related but distinct approaches to limiting COVID-19's spread. In short: Isolate if you're sick, quarantine if you have been exposed and identified as a close contact.

You must isolate if you have tested positive for COVID-19. This means you must be alone, without direct contact with anyone else, until you can no longer spread the virus. This isolation period lasts for 10 days.

If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19 and you are unvaccinated: you must quarantine following an exposure.

  • If 10 days after your exposure you have no symptoms, you can end quarantine.
  • You can also end your quarantine after 7 days if you get tested and are negative for the virus. Testing should occur on or after the 5th day.

Resources are available to support you if you're required to isolate or quarantine, and need medical, housing, food, or other assistance. 

If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19  and you are fully vaccinated: you are not required to quarantine following an exposure.

However, you should still monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure. If you experience symptoms, isolate yourself from others, seek testing, and contact your healthcare provider.

Table of Contents

Learn about isolating

If you test positive for COVID-19, or you are told by a healthcare provider that you have COVID-19, you must remain in isolation for 10 days.

A public health authority may contact you to discuss your isolation period and any questions you may have.

Take these steps when self-isolating:

  • Stay at home and use a separate bedroom and bathroom if possible.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from other people in the house.
  • Do not leave your house to go to school, work or run errands.
  • Do not have any visitors to your house during this time.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Do not share eating or drinking utensils with anybody.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean surfaces that you touch every day with a household disinfectant.
  • Make a list of everyone you have been close to while indoors (within 6 feet of for at least 15 minutes), since you first got sick. Those people have been exposed to COVID-19 and should be asked to self-quarantine. 
  • Monitor your health closely while you isolate at home. If your symptoms worsen (such as shortness of breath or respiratory distress), contact your medical provider immediately.
  • If you need to see your healthcare provider, do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares to get to your appointment.

Learn about quarantining

You must quarantine if you are not fully vaccinated but are a close contact to someone diagnosed with COVID-19. Quarantine is also recommended for unvaccinated individuals who have traveled outside of Massachusetts. You may be contacted by a local health official or the Commonwealth's Community Tracing Collaborative regarding any contact with those who have COVID-19.

  • 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.
    • You do not need to receive a booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated.
  • If you are fully vaccinated, you should still monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure.  If you experience symptoms, isolate yourself from others, seek testing, and contact your healthcare provider. 

Please take these steps to help stop the spread of COVID-19 while you quarantine:

  • Stay at home and use a separate bedroom and bathroom if possible.
  • Do your best to stay at least 6 feet away from other people in the house.
  • Do not leave your house to go to school, work or run errands.
  • Do not have any visitors to your house during this time.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Do not share eating or drinking utensils with anybody.
  • Monitor your health every day.
  • If you get sick with fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other signs of respiratory illness, call your healthcare provider and schedule a COVID-19 test. Be sure to tell them you have been exposed to COVID-19.
  • If you need to seek routine medical care, call ahead to your doctor and tell them you are under COVID-19 quarantine.
  • Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares to get to your appointment.

Additional Resources

Information for employers and employees

View Exposure & Return to Work Guidance for health care workers, first responders, critical infrastructure workers, and all other workers in Massachusetts.

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