Self-isolation can help prevent the spread of infection, such as COVID-19. When you are exposed to an illness, there is a time between the exposure and when you start to feel sick. This is known as the incubation period. There is a very small chance that you can spread the germs during this time, in the few days before a sickness starts. More importantly, staying home means that if you do start to feel sick, you won’t run the risk of this happening while you are in a public place. Self-isolation is a cautious action used to lower the chance that the virus could spread to others.
Based on local epidemiology, effective September 1, only people waiting for their COVID-19 test results are required to self-isolate. Members of the same household do not have to self-isolate with those waiting for their test results but must continue practicing public health measures. A parent or guardian will have to stay home with any child waiting for their COVID-19 test result since a child cannot isolate alone.
Everyone is urged to continue practice public health measures like frequent hand washing, enhanced cleaning of shared surfaces and equipment, physical distancing and other measures.
The Chief Public Health Officer can now issue orders under the Public Health Act as needed, such as fines to anyone who is not complying with the direction to self-isolate. You can learn more in the related news release- COVID-19 enforcement.
In an emergency, Islanders with concerns about those not in compliance of the self-isolation directive may contact the COVID-19 information line:
Call: 1-800-958-6400 (toll-free)
Frequently Asked Questions
When do I have to self-isolate?
- Persons identified as a close contact of a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 will self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the last day of close contact, regardless of whether a negative test result for COVID-19 is received during that period.
- Persons diagnosed with COVID-19 will self-isolate for a period of at least 14 days after the onset of symptoms and such additional time until the person is cleared by a public health official.
- Persons who are symptomatic and awaiting the results of a test for COVID-19 will self-isolate as follows:
- If you are symptomatic with exposure criteria (history of travel or close contact with a positive case) you will self-isolate for 14 days from the date of the test, regardless of whether a negative rest result is received during that period.
- If you are symptomatic without exposure criteria (no history of travel, no known contact with a positive case), you do not need to self-isolate after receipt of a negative COVID-19 test result, unless otherwise instructed by a public health official.
- If you have returned from international travel on or after March 8th, 2020, you must self-isolate for 14 days from the date of your return to Canada or for the duration of your stay in PEI (if shorter than 14 days), regardless of whether a negative test result for COVID-19 is received during that period. Persons arriving to Prince Edward Island may be required to present a self-isolation plan.
- If you have returned from domestic travel outside of Atlantic Canada, you must self-isolate for 14 days or for the duration of your stay in PEI (if shorter than 14 days), regardless of whether a negative test result for COVID-19 is received during that period. Persons arriving to Prince Edward Island may be required to present a self-isolation plan.
- If you are an essential worker entering the province, visit Essential workers: Self-Isolation, Testing and Exemptions.
Are there exemptions for residents after returning to PEI?
- If you are entering PEI from outside of Atlantic Canada to visit a palliative individual who is within two weeks of passing, you must self-isolate for 14 days or if shorter than 14 days, the duration of your stay. If the palliative person is an in-patient at a PEI facility, you must get prior permission from the facility before travelling to PEI to visit. You are exempt from self-isolation only during that time for the purpose of visiting the dying individual and attending a related wake, funeral and/or burial service associated with the death of the individual. You must keep 6 feet or 2 metre distance from others. You must also perform hand hygiene and practice cough etiquette, self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, stay in self-isolation if experiencing symptoms, and follow other general public health measures outlined on this page. This exemption does not apply if the visitor is symptomatic or if the patient has been confirmed to have COVID-19.
- If you are entering PEI from outside of Atlantic Canada as an immediate family member of someone who has just died in order to attend a wake, funeral and/or burial service, you must self-isolate for 14 days or if shorter than 14 days, the duration of your stay however you are exempt from self-isolation for the purposes of arranging and attending the services. You must keep 6 feet or 2 metre distance from others. You must also perform hand hygiene and practice cough etiquette, self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and stay home if experiencing symptoms, and follow other general public health measures outlined on this page.
What does it mean to self-isolate?
Self-isolation means limiting contact with others. This means all situations where you may come in contact with others, such as social gatherings, work, school, child care, athletic events, university, faith-based gatherings, healthcare facilities, grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, and all public gatherings.
- STAY on your own property while you are in self-isolation.
- If you live in an apartment building, you must stay on the building's property and practice physical distancing while in corridors, stairwells, elevators, other shared spaces and outdoors.
- Do not leave home unless absolutely necessary, such as to seek medical care.
- Do not go to school, work, other public areas or use public transportation (e.g., buses, taxis).
- Arrange to have groceries and supplies dropped off at your door to minimize contact.
- Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others in your home, if possible.
- If you have to be in contact with others, keep at least 2 metres between yourself and the other person. Keep interactions brief and wear a mask.
- Avoid contact with individuals with chronic conditions, compromised immune systems and older adults.
- Avoid contact with pets if you live with other people that may also be touching the pet.
In situations where only one member of the household needs to self-isolate, it is important that other members of the household take the following precautions:
- maintain appropriate physical distancing at all times;
- ensure enhanced cleaning of all shared spaces following use.
If all members of the household cannot ensure that the above requirements can be met, then all members are to follow self-isolating guidelines for the 14 day period.
I have developed symptoms of COVID-19 and am being tested. I have not travelled recently or had contact with a confirmed case on PEI. How does this impact members of my household?
When any member of the household develops symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and are waiting for test results, they must self isolate. Members of the household do not need to self-isolate, but must continue practicing public health measures. A parent or guardian will have to stay home with any child waiting for their COVID-19 test result since a child cannot isolate alone
What else can I do to stop the spread of infection?
Proper hygiene and hand-washing can help minimize exposure to COVID-19.
Keep your hands clean
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and dry with disposable paper towels or dry reusable towel, replacing it when it becomes wet.
- You can also remove dirt with a wet wipe and then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Cough or sneeze into the bend of your arm or into a tissue.
Cover your coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or you can cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
- Throw used tissues in the garbage, and immediately wash your hands with either soap and water for at least 20 seconds making sure you dry them thoroughly or use alcohol based hand sanitizer.
Avoid contaminating common items and surfaces
- At least once daily, clean and disinfect surfaces that you touch often, like toilets, bedside tables, doorknobs, phones and television remotes.
- Do not share personal items with others, such as toothbrushes, towels, bed linen, utensils or electronic devices.
- Use regular household disinfectants or diluted bleach (1 part bleach and 9 parts water) to disinfect.
- Place contaminated items that cannot be cleaned in a lined container, secure the contents and dispose of them with other household waste.
- Put the lid of the toilet down before flushing.
Care for yourself
- Monitor your symptoms and if you become ill with cough, fever, difficulty breathing, or other respiratory symptoms call 811 for assessment for testing or visit a no appointment drop-in testing clinic.
- If you have been in contact with 811 but later your symptoms worsen call 811 again for further screening. If your symptoms become serious and you need medical attention call 911.
- Get some rest, eat a balanced diet and stay in touch with others through communication devices.