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Self-isolation & quarantine FAQs

By Adrian 13 Oct 2020

You can find all our COVID-19 content at

There is a quick summary at

We also recommend that you stay up to date with guidance from the UK government and the NHS.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19

If you become unwell with symptoms of possible COVID-19, please stay in your room and follow the self-isolation instructions (there are slightly different instructions for Eleanor Rosa House and Handel Mansions). The instructions include details of how you will obtain food, and the circumstances in which you would be allowed to leave your room.

It is essential that you notify us that you are self-isolating.

If you need help from us, don't rely on this notification form alone: please also contact the reception desk in your hall.

You should arrange to have a test for coronavirus as soon as possible.

The law: what you can/cannot do

The law in England for travel quarantine is explained at 

The law for self-isolation and household quarantine is explained at 

The law for close contact quarantine is explained at

Note that the government uses the same term, "self-isolation", to refer to self-isolation, contact quarantine, and travel quarantine.

I've had a negative test. Does this mean I don't have to self-isolate / quarantine?

If you have been self-isolating with symptoms of COVID-19 and you are not also required to be in travel or contact quarantine, then a negative test result means you can end your self-isolation.

If you are in contact quarantine, a negative test result does not shorten the ten-day period of quarantine. This is because a negative test on - for example - day 6 does not preclude the possibility of your "turning positive" on day 7.

Under some circumstances, you can shorten the duration of your travel quarantine by getting a private COVID-19 PCR test. Please see the government guidance for details:

Please let us know at if you plan to use the test to release scheme.

I've just finished travel quarantine and have now been told I have to quarantine because of household contact in the halls. Am I exempt?

No, travel quarantine and contact quarantine are two different things and one does not excuse a person from the other. This is national guidance, not a University of London rule.

Practicalities of self-isolation in halls

If I'm in travel quarantine or contact quarantine, can I get a test?

No. The current national guidance in England is that you should only get a test if you have symptoms of COVID-19 ( new persistent cough, fever, or loss/chane in sense of taste or smell). As explained above, a negative test would not shorten the quarantine period.

How do I let the halls know my coronavirus test result?

The result of your test will affect how we look after you, and it will also affect decisions about contact quarantine for others in your hall household. So when you get your test result, please:

  1. notify us at; AND
  2. call the main reception of your hall and ask to speak urgently with the Hall Manager (during office hours) or the duty RA (outside of office hours, up until 11pm - if it's later than 11pm, please wait until the next morning).

Can I prepare in advance, in case I have to self-isolate or quarantine?

Yes! Think: if you had to self-isolate, how would you get food, medicines, and other essentials?

Try and ensure that you always have at least a 10-day supply of any medicines that you use regularly.

If you live in self-catered accommodation, try to ensure that you always have some long-life products "in stock", so you could live on these for a few days during self-isolation. After a few days, you should be able to get a supermarket delivery.

Talk with your friends in hall now and agree to be "bug buddies" for one another - to look after each other and pick up essential items if one of your has to self-isolate. See our article about bug buddies for more information.

What about using the shared bathroom?

If you normally share a bathroom with other residents

  • For self-isolation or contact quarantine, subject to availability, we will temporarily move you to an en suite room, at no extra cost, for the period of your self-isolation or contact quarantine.
  • If we do not have an en suite room available, we will ask you to use one specific toilet and shower cubicle, marked with a red "self-isolation" sign or a dark pink "contact quarantine" sign. 
  • For travel quarantine, we will ask you to use one specific toilet and shower cubicle, marked with an orange "travel quarantine".

Nutford House

At Nutford House, contact quarantine and travel quarantine facilities are both marked with a dark pink and orange "quarantine" sign.

How do I get food?

When you notify us that you are entering self-isolation, contact quarantine, or travel quarantine, we will ask you to indicate whether you would like to receive the meat option or vegetarian option. If there are some types of meat that you do not eat, we recommend selecting the vegetarian option.

If you live in catered accommodation

We will deliver breakfast, lunch, and dinner to your room, Monday to Friday; and brunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday, for the full period of your self-isolation or quarantine. (Brunch at the weekend is in replacement of BReakfast and lUNCH.)

If you live in self-catered accommodation

  • For self-isolation in self-catered accommodation at Garden Halls, Handel Mansions, International Hall, Lillian Penson Hall, and Nutford House, we will deliver breakfast, lunch, and dinner to your room, Monday to Friday; and brunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday, for the period of your self-isolation or quarantine. For contact quarantine or travel quarantine in self-catered accommodation at those halls, we will deliver meals for your first three days of quarantine; from day four, you should arrange for a supermarket delivery.
  • At Eleanor Rosa House, we can provide a three-day emergency supply of food at the beginning of your period of travel quarantine only. From day four, you should arrange for a supermarket delivery. Please ensure you keep a stock of long life provisions to use in the event that you have to self-isolate or contact quarantine, as we will not routinely provide catered meals.

How can I receive deliveries?

If you are in self-isolation, contact quarantine, or travel quarantine, you may not pick up deliveries yourself. See this separate post about how you can receive deliveries:

We also created a list of online delivery services you might like to try:

How do I use the shared kitchen in self-catered accommodation?

During self-isolation, contact quarantine, or travel quarantine:

If you share a kitchen with others, avoid using it while others are present. Take your meals back to your room to eat. Wash your used crockery and cutlery using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly, remembering to use a separate tea towel.

We recommend having a WhatsApp or Messenger conversation with the people you share the kitchen with, and agree a few times for each day when the kitchen will be for your exclusive use. Wipe down the surfaces with disinfectant (wipes provided) and wash any shared utensils before others use the kitchen.

Can I use the small pantry / tea kitchen in catered accommodation?

Self-isolation with symptoms or a positive test

No. Because we are providing you with meals, there should not be a need to use the pantries. If you need to store items in a refrigerator, contact the Hall Manager for your hall as we may be able to provide you with a fridge for temporary use in your room.

Contact quarantine or travel quarantine

You may use the pantry (please do so as infrequently as possible), following these guidelines: 

  • wash or sanitise your hands immediately before leaving your room;
  • wear a face covering the whole time you are out of your own room;
  • go straight to and from the pantry;
  • keep the time outside your room to a reasonable minimum;
  • do not be in the pantry at the same time as anyone else;
  • wipe down surfaces in the pantry after you have used it; and
  • do not have face-to-face interaction with anyone else.

Can I go out to get medicines or toiletries?

You are allowed to leave your accommodation to access urgent medical care or to obtain essential medicines if there is no other way to obtain them. So if you're making an online order, consider whether you should add some toiletries or sanitary products, so you have enough to last for the period of self-isolation. You might need to ask your bug buddy to help. If you're unable to get the things you need, contact your Warden or Hall Manager.

If you live in an en suite room, our housekeeping team will leave a supply of toilet paper outside your room every Tuesday morning while you are self-isolating or in quarantine. When your period of self-isolation or quarantine ends, this toilet paper supply will stop.

We have a small supply of sanitary products available in each hall; contact your Hall Manager if you need us to provide an emergency supply.

See also our post about receiving deliveries:

Can I use the laundrette?

No. So we advise you to think: can you last 10 days of self-isolation or 14 days of quarantine without doing a clothes wash? If not, consider placing an order for a few essential items like underwear. Or you could order in some hand-wash laundry detergent to wash small items in your washbasin. We have a limited supply of hand-wash laundry detergent available in each hall; contact your Hall Manager if you need us to provide an emergency supply.

Doing laundry is not an allowable reason to leave your room during self-isolation or quarantine.

Can I go out to exercise, smoke, or use the hall garden?

Self-isolation with symptoms and/or a positive test

No. These are not allowable reasons to leave your room during self-isolation with symptoms or a positive test. If you smoke regularly, we recommend buying nicotine replacement products (e.g. gum or patches) for the period of your self-isolation.

Contact quarantine or travel quarantine

See separate post HERE.

What do I do with rubbish (trash/refuse)?

While you are in self-isolation, contact quarantine, or travel quarantine, we will collect waste from your room every Tuesday and Friday morning, as well as leaving you with a new supply of bin bags.

The housekeeping staff will knock on your door and stand back, leaving a trolley or bin outside the door. Please put your waste into the bin or trolley. If the staff knock and there is no answer, the collection will be attempted on the next collection day.

When your period of quarantine or self-isolation ends, you should dispose of waste as per the guidance for all residents in our Hall Handbook.

What do I do if I hear the fire alarm?

See this post for what to do if the fire alarm sounds when you are in self-isolation or quarantine: 

Adrian profile picture

Adrian a medical doctor, the University of London Student Health & Wellbeing Manager, and the Warden of Connaught Hall. He is passionate about advancing equality, diversity, and inclusion. Adrian's interests include fitness, nutrition, mindfulness and insight meditation, medical education, social psychology, and human factors / crisis resource management.
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