ontario isolation rules

These are the COVID self-isolation rules in Ontario right now

COVID-19 self-isolation isn't the most fun, but it is a very necessary step to help mitigate the spread of the virus (even though it's already all over the place in Ontario now).

If you've finally caught COVID-19, or have been exposed after managing to evade it for nearly two years: Welcome to the club! There are certain rules you'll need to follow for the next little while and, lucky for you, the recommended quarantine window is now just 10 days rather than two entire weeks, as it was previously.

Get tested

In the case of an exposure to a confirmed case, and/or if you have any respiratory symptoms, your first step is to get tested ASAP.

A rapid antigen test, if you can get your hands on one, will help you get a better idea of whether you're actually infected within just 15 minutes, but is not the most reliable diagnostic tool, so you'll need to book a PCR test at a designated assessment centre — also very hard to secure these days, unfortunately.

The province has a handy list of COVID-19 testing locations that includes pharmacies and hospitals searchable by distance from your postal code, as well as information about how to book at each of them.

Once you schedule your PCR, it's a waiting game until you can take the test and receive your results, which can take anywhere from 12 hours to a few days for publicly-funded sites.

There is also the private route if you're willing to shell out $150+ to get an appointment, and an ultimate verdict, fast — some clinics can get you your results within just a few hours.

Isolate until the results come in

Until you receive those results, you'll need to isolate alone, ensuring you don't have any close contact with another human.

If you live with others and have no other option, you'll need to make sure you stay away from housemates (i.e., sequester yourself in your room), wash your hands often and try your best to sanitize anything you touch in common areas such as bathrooms after each use (think doorknobs, light switches, surfaces).

Keeping windows open for good ventilation will also help.

Check your results

Your PCR results may come in the form of an email, a call, or an update to an online database you have to log in to access a certain number of hours after your test.

If your test comes back negative, congrats! You'll probably want to stay home alone until you recover from whatever illness you do have.

And if it's positive? Well, your self-isolation period must last at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, after which you are free only if you are symptom-free by that point.

Next steps if you're confirmed to be infected

In the meantime, isolating means staying home and out of the public realm, so no public transportation, no taxis or rideshares, no work or school, no social events, no shopping, no leaving your house in general. You should also contact anyone who you've been around in recent days to let them know that they were potentially exposed.

If you do for some reason have to be out of the house and around others (for a medical appointment or during an emergency, for example), mask up — doubling up is even better — and stay at least six feet away from anyone else.

UberEats and grocery delivery from a dedicated service or loved ones will be your best friend during this time (via no-contact drop off, of course), as will Netflix, books and podcasts.

Maybe take the time to reorganize your closets, learn something new online, or take care of some life admin you've been putting off. And if you're [un]lucky enough to work from home, then you probably don't have much free time anyways.

After testing positive, expect a text from public health with a survey asking about your exposure circumstances and isolation plan, and also potentially a call from a doctor or pharmacist at the clinic you tested positive at. They can answer any questions you might have.

Best of luck, and may your symptoms be mild enough to not require any actual medical attention during this time (if you have the Omicron variant, this is very likely the case).

If you do start to experience serious symptoms like struggling for each breath, severe chest pain, losing consciousness or feeling confused about where you are, call 911.

Also noteworthy: It is safe for anyone who tests positive to get their COVID-19 booster shot as soon as they're done their isolation period, if they so choose.

Lead photo by

Jack Landau


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