Quarantine Instructions

Home Quarantine Instructions for People Exposed to COVID-19

If you live in San Luis Obispo County and have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you are required to follow this Health Officer order to quarantine yourself immediately, follow the instructions below, and remain in quarantine until your quarantine order ends.

Note: Quarantine is different from isolationIsolation is for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Quarantine is for individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19. 

All persons arriving in or returning to California from other states or countries, should self-quarantine for 10 days after arrival, except as necessary to meet urgent critical healthcare staffing needs or to otherwise engage in emergency response. Note: This recommendation does not apply to individuals who routinely cross state or country borders for essential travel.

Definition of a Close Contact

A Close Contact is any of the following people who were exposed to someone who has COVID-19 while that person was infectious*:

  • Anyone who was within 6 feet of a known case for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, even if you both wore masks.
  • Anyone who had unprotected contact with a known case’s body fluids and/or secretions. For example, someone with COVID-19 coughed or sneezed on you, you shared utensils or dishes, or you cared for them without wearing a cloth face covering.

*A person with COVID-19 is contagious 2 days before their first symptoms appear until they are no longer required to be self-quarantined. A person with a positive COVID-19 test but no symptoms is contagious from 2 days before their test was taken until 10 days after their test.

Definition of a Household Contact

  • A Household Contact is someone who lives with and/or cares for a COVID-19 positive individual. A Household Contact is a specific type of close contact with distinct requirements for duration of quarantine.


 Step 1: Quarantine (Stay Home)

COVID-19 is very contagious. If you have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you must self-quarantine to prevent spreading the disease to your family, friends, and community. This means you must stay home and separate yourself from others until your quarantine order ends.


House1. Do not leave home to go to work, school, or public areas.

While in quarantine, you must not leave your home, even if you feel well. Do not let delivery persons or visitors inside your home.


Doctor2. You may leave home to get essential medical care.

  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
  • Drive yourself alone, if possible. If you cannot drive yourself:
  • Keep as much distance as possible between you and the driver and others (e.g., sit in the back seat), and
  • Leave the windows down, and
  • Wear a mask or cloth face covering.


Fever3. Stay away from household members.

If you live with other persons:

  • Try to limit your contact with them and wear a face covering if you do. Stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Try to stay in a specific “sick room” and use a separate bathroom if available. 
  • Avoid sharing personal household items like dishes, towels, and bedding.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean your hands often.
  • Disinfect “high touch” surfaces you touch frequently.


Food delivery4. Do not answer the door for deliveries, if possible.

If someone delivers something at your home, ask them to leave the delivery at your door, if possible. Pick them up after the person has left. If you need to answer the door:

  • Keep as much distance between you and the other person as possible, and
  • Wear a mask or cloth face covering. 


Help5. Help is available.

  • There are a variety of local assistance services and programs to help with food assistance and delivery, health insurance coverage, disability insurance, and much more.
  • Unemployment may be available for people who cannot work because they, or a family member, need to isolate or quarantine. Visit the California EDD website for information.


Letter6. Request Documentation of Your Quarantine Order

Does your employer, school, or other agency require documentation or a letter showing that you have received a Health Officer Order to Quarantine? You may request documentation of your quarantine order by filling out this form.

 Step 2: Monitor your health

Temperature1. Monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms and check your temperature twice daily during your quarantine. 

  • Keep a log of your temperatures
  • If you develop a fever (temperature ≥ 100.4 F) or any of the below symptoms, call your health care provider and get tested for COVID-19.  

Doctor2. Seek emergency medical care immediately If you have any of these warning signs*,

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Ambulance3. Call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility: Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.


Letter4. Contact your health care provider if you have a medical condition that places you at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.  

Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death. Adults of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Down Syndrome
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
  • Severe Obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Smoking
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus


 Step 3: Complete the duration of your quarantine period
House 1. Quarantine Time Period
  • Your quarantine will end 10 days (or up to 14 days if higher risk*) after your last exposure to an infected person. 
  • Quarantine period for household contacts (someone you live with and/or care for) of a COVID-19 positive individual:  
    • Quarantine ends 10-14 days after you and everyone in your household no longer had close contact with the infected person. See Home Isolation Instructions for COVID-19 
    • If you have another close contact with a COVID-19 positive person during your quarantine, you will then have to restart your 10 to14-day quarantine period from the last day that you had close contact. For example, 9 days into your quarantine and a different household member gets sick or tests positive for COVID-19 and you had close contact with them, then you need to start your quarantine period over at day 1.
    • If you cannot avoid close contact, your last day of quarantine is 10 days after the date that the infected person was told their isolation ends.

*Higher risk individuals should quarantine for 14 days. This includes the elderly, immunocompromised, people with certain chronic medical conditions, or people who work or live in any congregate setting (e.g., residential care facility for the elderly or those with disabilities, any facility that cares for people who are severely immunocompromised, school, college dorm, or correctional facility).

  • If you don’t know when you were exposed and you receive a phone call or text from Public Health ordering you to quarantine, you can end your quarantine 10 days after the date you received the call or text from Public health ordering you to quarantine (as long as you don’t have symptoms).
  • When your quarantine period is over, you may return to work or school. Yo do not need a negative test to end quaratine.

Letter2. Request Release from Quarantine Documentation

Does your employer or school require documentation or a letter showing that you have completed your quarantine period? You may request documentation of your release from quarantine by filling out this form


Frequently Asked Questions

1. What if I start to feel sick and need to see a doctor? What signs should I watch for?

Signs that you are getting sick include fever (temperature greater than 100.4), chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.  

Call ahead first. Your doctor may be able to see and treat minor illness over the phone. If you do need to go to an emergency department, make sure they are ready to receive you and tell them about the COVID-19 quarantine notification you received.

Some symptoms require that you seek medical help immediately. If you develop any of the following symptoms, please call 911 or call ahead to the Emergency Room to let them know that you have been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID 19 and be prepared to share your date of exposure. Let them know what symptoms you are having. If you develop any of the following symptoms, seek emergency medical care or call 911 immediately: Trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face. 

 2. Can I go to work if I have been quarantined?


Certain exceptions may be allowed for defined essential work; however, that would be discussed with County Public Health Department staff and per your employer's request.

3. Can I be outdoors while I am in quarantine? 

Quarantine stops other people from getting infected, especially vulnerable people in your household and community. Do not go to work, school, friends or family member’s houses or public places.

4. Can I go to the grocery store or pharmacy?

No. A quarantine order means you are to stay at home.  If you need assistance beyond what your household members can provide, contact County Public Health at (805) 781-5500.

5. Can I participate in gatherings such as family parties, barbeques, funerals, or celebrations while I am in quarantine or isolation? 
NO, this is extremely dangerous due to your potential contagious illness. Even if you do not feel ill, you can expose others. 
6. What is the difference between Quarantine and Isolation?  

Isolation and Quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease. 

  • Isolation is the separation of sick people from people who are not sick.
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. 
7. If I'm ordered to quarantine, should I get tested?

We recommend you get tested if you start experiencing symptoms. You should ask your health care provider if you should get tested even if you feel well. A negative test does not shorten the duration of quarantine.

Testing is not recommended for people who had a positive COVID-19 PCR test in the past 90 days and do not currently have symptoms of COVID-19.

8. Do I have to quarantine if I've been vaccinated against COVID-19?

Vaccinated persons* with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine)
  • Are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series
  • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure

Persons who do not meet all 3 of the above criteria should continue to follow current CDPH quarantine guidance after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

 9. Why did I receive a quarantine text message instead of a phone call?

The County of SLO Public Health Department is currently experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases that has outpaced our contact tracing resources. In order to respond quickly and effectively to reduce further spread of the virus, we are notifying some individuals by text message rather than a phone call.

We are counting on our residents to follow the steps above to protect themselves, their family, friends, co-workers, and community. 

 10. Will I be receiving a quarantine order or letter?
If you received a text notification to quarantine, you will not receive any further documentation from the Public Health Department. However, if you need documentation of your quarantine order, you may submit a request online. 
 11. Can I get released from quarantine if I test negative for COVID-19?

If you get tested for COVID-19, and it is negative, you must still quarantine for at least 10 days. The virus that causes COVID-19 can incubate in your system for up to 14 days without detection from a test. You do not need a negative test to end quarantine.

 12. Do I need to quarantine if I've already had COVID-19?

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not have to quarantine or get tested again as long as they do not develop new symptoms. People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.

 13. What if I still have questions?

Visit the California Department of Public Health website www.cdph.ca.gov/covid19 or ReadySLO.org. Call your medical provider for any questions related to your health. 

REMEMBER: COVID-19 spreads from infected people to others when they are working, living, or sharing social moments together.



If you have questions please contact the Public Health Department at (805) 781-5500.