How to self-isolate

What you can do when self-isolating, including reasons you are permitted to leave self-isolation.

What to do when self-isolating

If you have COVID-19 you must self-isolate for 7 days.

Day 0 is the day your symptoms started or when you tested positive, whichever came first.

Use the COVID-19 Health Hub to work out your isolation timeline: 

Create your isolation timeline (external link)

  • Stay at home — do not go to work, school or any public places.
  • Avoid contact with people in your household. For example, sleep by yourself if you can, and limit the time you spend in shared spaces. If you cannot, stay at least 2 metres apart and wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth when near others.
  • You can exercise outdoors in your neighbourhood. Do not visit any shared exercise facility, such as a swimming pool.
  • You can get deliveries, such as food and medicine from whānau and friends or by ordering supplies online. Identify a safe drop-off point outside the house to leave supplies.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly. This includes things you touch often, like door handles, light switches and phones.
  • Do your own laundry.

You cannot end your self-isolation early, even if a later test is negative during the 7 days.


Open windows to increase fresh air flow inside. The risk of spreading COVID-19 is highest in crowded and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.

Ventilation and COVID-19


You can download and print posters for your home to tell people you are self-isolating:

We are self-isolating poster [PDF, 88 KB]

What not to do when self-isolating

  • Do not leave the house for any reason, unless it is a permitted reason — such as urgent medical care or exercising. If you cannot work from home during this time, your employer (or you, if you are self-employed) may be able to apply for leave support.
  • Do not prepare food for others.
  • Do not share items with people in your household. For example, dishes, toothbrushes and towels.
  • Do not have visitors. This includes tradespeople, unless it is an emergency. If you have a support carer, they can continue to provide essential care.
  • If you are unwell and have symptoms, do not do strenuous, high-impact exercise. Stick to gentle, familiar exercise.
  • Do not get a COVID-19 vaccination until you have recovered.

Permitted reasons to leave self-isolation

You can leave the place you are self-isolating for the following reasons. You must always wear a mask and maintain physical distance where possible.

You can use any type of transport for these permitted reasons, as long as you travel directly as possible and return as soon as possible.

You can:

  • have any medical examination and testing required
  • access essential health services for treatment that cannot wait until you finish self-isolation
  • attend any court, tribunal, New Zealand Parole Board hearing or other judicial institution you must attend
  • move to another place of self-isolation to protect your own or another person’s life, health, or safety
  • visit a dying relative who is not expected to live beyond your self-isolation
  • visit the body of a relative before a funeral or tangihanga, if you will not be able to visit the body after your self-isolation
  • provide urgent care to a child, or care or support to a person who is in a critical or terminal condition
  • drive a household member to a medical appointment
  • move to a new place of isolation if it is due to the sale of your house, the end of your rental agreement or by court order.


You can exercise outside your home while self-isolating. You can exercise in your neighbourhood, but not using any shared facility, such as a swimming pool or gym. You cannot exercise with other people unless they are part of your household.

Be mindful to:

  • keep your distance from others
  • stick to gentle, familiar exercise — do not do anything risky where you may need rescuing
  • carry a face mask — you do not need to wear a face mask, but you may feel more comfortable doing so.

If you get COVID-19 while travelling

If you are away from home or your normal place of residence, you can return home in a private vehicle.

If you get COVID-19 while travelling

Proof of COVID-19 infection and isolation

For workers

If your employer asks to see proof that you must isolate, you can use your positive result confirmation text message. You do not need a medical certificate from a doctor.

Recording your positive RAT result is important because you:

  • will get a text message from Te Whatu Ora which you can use as evidence if you need time off work
  • can get support from public health services if you are at higher risk of severe illness
  • will get a second text message when you can leave isolation.

For employers

The official 2328 or 2648 numbers are text message services used by Te Whatu Ora. They confirm:

  • a person is positive for COVID-19
  • when their isolation period ends
  • if a person is a Household Contact.

The Holiday Act 2003 says an employer can ask an employee for proof of sickness or injury for sick leave taken if it is for 3 or more consecutive days.

Text messages from 2328 or 2648 are reliable proof of a person needing to isolate or take time off due to COVID-19. You do not need to ask for a medical certificate.

You also do not need a medical certificate for employers to get the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme.

Leave and pay entitlements during COVID-19 | Employment New Zealand (external link)

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