Social distancing and self-isolation are important ways to protect yourselves and others from Coronavirus. The British Heart Foundation provided the following explanation of what they are and the difference between them.

Both self-isolation and social distancing are important ways to protect yourself and others, and to slow down the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19). Social distancing is advised for everyone, while self-isolation applies to those who have symptoms of Coronavirus or live with someone who does. 

Social distancing 

Social distancing is about limiting face-to-face interactions with people. This helps to slow the spread of Covid-19 and to help protect yourself from catching it.  

Who should be doing it?
Everyone should be practising social distancing right now. If you’re over 70 years old, pregnant, or under 70 years old and have a long-term underlying health condition that means you are offered the flu jab each year, you should be taking extra care to follow social distancing guidelines. 

How do I do it? 
The measures for social distancing are: 

  • Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of Coronavirus (Covid-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough 
  • Avoid non-essential use of public transport. Vary your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible
  • Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance for more information
  • Avoid large gatherings. Also avoid gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, and clubs
  • Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
  • Use online or telephone services to contact your GP or other essential services. 

You should also make sure that you and any essential visitors (like carers or family members) wash your hands regularly and take extra care of your hygiene. You can go outside for a walk, but make sure that you stay more than 2 metres from other people. 


Self-isolation means staying at home. Self-isolation is the most effective way of preventing the Coronavirus from spreading.  

Who should be doing it? 
Self-isolation is strongly advised for anyone who has the symptoms of Coronavirus (high temperature and/or new and continuous cough) or might have been exposed to it, or lives with someone who does.  

How long should I self-isolate? 
If you live alone and you have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. If you live with others and you’re the first to have symptoms, then you must stay home for 7 days. But all other household members must stay in the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day the first person in the house
became ill.  

How do I self-isolate? 
The measures for self-isolation are: 

  • Stay at home and do not go out. Don’t go to work, school, or use public transportation or taxis  
  • Stay at least five steps (2m)away from other people in your home. Be particularly careful around those who are over 70, are pregnant, or who have a long-term underlying health condition 
  • Avoid having any visitors in your home. Ask them to leave any deliveries at your door 
  • Don’t go out to buy food or collect medicine, if possible. Order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
  • Stay at least three steps away (two metres away or six feet) from other people outside if you need to leave your home to exercise 
  • Sleep alone if you can. 

You should also make sure that you and any household members are washing your hands regularly and taking extra care of your hygiene.