Isolation helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 by reducing the number of people you could infect if you're sick. It requires staying home and avoiding situations where the virus could spread.
Albertans are legally required to isolate for 10 days if you tested positive or have any core symptoms that are not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition.
If you have symptoms, take the online assessment to arrange testing.
As of July 29, it is no longer required for close contacts to quarantine for 14 days.
Federal border measures and quarantine laws apply for all international travellers entering Canada. For more information on travel, testing, quarantine and borders, see COVID-19 travel requirements.
Why we need to isolate or quarantine
COVID-19 can take up to 14 days to cause symptoms. Some people who get it only have minor symptoms or don't have any symptoms at all but could still be infectious.
By staying home, it lowers the chance of you spreading the virus to others while you are infectious.
When to isolate
Isolate to avoid spreading illness if:
- You tested positive for COVID-19.
- You are sick with fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, sore throat* or runny nose* and have not been tested.
*Children under 18 are exempt from mandatory isolation for runny nose or sore throat, but should stay home until well.
When to quarantine
As of July 29, it is no longer a legal requirement for close contacts to quarantine. For more information see close contact or household contact of a confirmed case.
For more information on federal quarantine requirements for international travellers, see COVID-19 travel requirements.
Who needs to isolate or quarantine
Albertans with core symptoms
Adults over 18 are legally required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days if they have the following core symptoms that are not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition:
- shortness of breath
- runny nose
- sore throat
- loss of taste or smell
Children under 18 are exempt from mandatory isolation for having a runny nose or sore throat, but should stay home until well. Children are required to isolate for at least 10 days if they have the following core symptoms:
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- loss of sense of taste or smell
The mandatory isolation period is 10 days from the start of symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever takes longer.
Tested positive for COVID-19
- You are legally required to isolate for 10 days minimum if you have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Isolation period is for 10 days from the start of symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever takes longer.
- If you're unable to safely isolate away from uninfected members of your household, call 211 to request a referral to stay in an isolation hotel free of charge. Financial supports are also available.
- If a child is infected, consider moving other family members not required for child care to a hotel for their quarantine period.
Return to work or school
- Proof of a negative COVID-19 test and/or a medical note is not required to return to school, work or activities once the isolation period is complete.
Close contact or household contact of a confirmed case
As of July 29, it is no longer a legal requirement to quarantine if you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19.
Those who are not fully immunized are recommended to avoid high-risk locations such as continuing care and crowded indoor spaces if they have been in contact with a case in the past 14 days.
If you end up developing symptoms, you must isolate and should get tested.
- Alberta no longer has provincial quarantine requirements for international travellers. Federal border measures and quarantine laws apply for all international travellers entering Canada. For more information on travel, testing, quarantine and borders, see COVID-19 travel requirements.
- If you become sick with a known COVID-19 symptom during this time, you must isolate for an additional 10 days from the beginning of symptoms or until you are feeling well, whichever takes longer.
Financial support is available if you're unable to work because you are sick, required to isolate, or are caring for someone in isolation. See all programs.
Upcoming changes to isolation protocols
Alberta will begin adapting programs and policies in response to COVID-19, bringing the health response in line with influenza and other respiratory viruses.
On August 16, Alberta will lift the legal requirement for 10-day isolation following a positive COVID-19 test, though it will be strongly recommended. Staying home when sick is an important way to care for those around us by not passing on any illnesses.
Isolation hotels and quarantine supports will no longer be available at this time, as isolation requirements will no longer be in effect.
These restrictions must be followed if you are in mandatory isolation or quarantine.
- Stay home – do not leave your home or attend work, school, social events or any other public gatherings.
- Avoid close contact with people in your household, especially seniors and people with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
- Do not take public transportation like buses, taxis or ride-sharing - this is prohibited.
- Do not go outside for a walk through your neighbourhood or park. This includes children in mandatory isolation or quarantine.
- Do not use elevators or stairwells if you live in an apartment building or highrise, you must stay inside your unit. If your balcony is private and at least 2 metres away from your closest neighbour's, you may go outside on the balcony.
- Get fresh air in your backyard, if you have one, but you must remain on private property not accessible by others.
This directive is consistent with federal requirements under the Quarantine Act.
Leaving isolation for emergency care
If you are in mandatory isolation or quarantine but need to leave home to receive COVID-19 testing, emergency care, or critical care for pre-existing medical conditions, follow the rules in the exemption orders carefully:
- pre-arrange your appointment and leave your isolation area only on the date and at the time of your appointment
- follow all instructions provided by 811 or health-care providers
- use private transportation where practical
- maintain physical distance from others when shared transportation is necessary – travel directly to your appointment with no stops
- follow instructions provided by 911 if you require emergency care
Read the exemption orders for more information:
How to prepare
Create a household action plan
Talk with the people who need to be included in your plan.
- Discuss what to do if a case occurs in your household and what the needs of each person will be with your household members, family and friends.
- Plan ways to care for those at greater risk of serious complications, such as ensuring you have sufficient medication, and determining what supplies are needed and how they can be delivered.
- Talk with your neighbours about emergency planning.
- Create a list of local organizations you can contact if you need access to information, health-care services, support or resources.
- Create an emergency contact list.
Prepare a space
- Choose a room in your home you can use to separate sick household members from healthy ones.
- Choose a separate bathroom for sick individuals to use, if possible.
- Plan to clean these rooms as needed when someone is sick.
- Have 72 hours’ worth of food and supplies at home. We do not recommend stockpiling goods.
Getting food and supplies
- Use delivery services for errands like grocery shopping. If delivery is not available, use contactless curbside pick-up options. Stay in your vehicle at all times and wear a mask.
- Ask friends or family to drop off food, medicine and other supplies.
Don’t share household items
- Don’t share household items like dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels and pillows.
- After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water, place in the dishwasher for cleaning, or wash in the washing machine.
- Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and counters.
Wash your hands
- Wash your hands often with soap and water thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available and if your hands are not visibly dirty.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Cover your coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
- Throw used tissues in the garbage and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
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