What to Do if You Are a Close Contact

What to Do if You Are a Close Contact

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What is close contact?

When someone tests positive for COVID-19, it is important to notify their close contacts to help keep COVID-19 from spreading. 

Close contact means being within 6 feet, for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, of someone with COVID-19 during their infectious period.The infectious period is when the person with COVID-19 is contagious. It starts two days before symptoms began and continues until they are recovered. For people who haven't had symptoms, the infectious period starts two days before they had a positive test.

Examples of close contact
Examples of close contacts     Examples of not close contacts
You live in the same home. You were their cashier at the grocery store.
You are intimate partners. You were their server at a restaurant.
You rode in the same car. You were in front of the person in line at the store.
You had dinner together.  You’re a coworker who briefly walked by to ask a question.

Close contact does not mean being more than 6 feet away in the same indoor environment for a short period of time, walking by, or briefly being in the same room.

If you are a close contact or think you had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, immediately begin following the testing and quarantine guidance below. This guidance does not apply to health care workers. You may find out that you are a close contact from the person who tested positive, the Health Department (a text message from 89361 or a phone call), your employer, your college, your child’s school, your health care provider, or another place you went to recently.

If you:  Then Do the following:
  • Had your booster shot
  • Completed your Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series within the last 5 months 
  • Completed your Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the last 2 months 
  • Are 5-17 years old or are enrolled in a K-12 school and have completed your Pfizer vaccine series
If you:  Then do the following:
  • Are not vaccinated
  • Completed your Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series more than 5 months ago and have not had a booster shot
  • Completed your Johnson & Johnson vaccine series more than 2 months ago and have not had a booster shot



  • Stay home and quarantine.
  • You can leave your home on day 5 if:
    • you have no symptoms 
    • AND you wear a mask around others through day 10.
    • AND, when possible, it is recommended that you have one negative PCR or LAMP test on or after day 5 or two negative antigen tests performed at least 24 hours apart beginning no earlier than day 4
  • If you test positive, follow What to do if you test positive for COVID-19 guidance
  • If you develop symptoms at any time, get a test and isolate from others until you receive your test results.

Children under 2 years old in quarantine can take a PCR test on Day 5. They can leave quarantine once they have negative results.

If you had a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 90 days and are now a close contact, wear a mask around other people for the next 10 days. You do not need to quarantine as long as you do not have any symptoms. If you get any symptoms, follow the guidance above and get tested.

This guidance does not apply to health care workers. Sector-specific guidance will follow.

Find a free COVID-19 test

How do I quarantine?

Here’s what you need to do to quarantine:

  • Day 0 is the day you were last in contact with the person who has COVID-19.
  • Stay home, except to get tested, for urgent medical care, or if you feel unsafe at home. Wear a mask if you need to leave home.
    • You can go outside to do outdoor activities, like exercise or recreation, if you: don’t have any symptoms, are alone in an uncrowded place, and can stay at least 6 feet away from others at all times. If you are not alone, you should wear a mask at all times.
  • Call ahead before visiting a health care provider or emergency department and tell them you are quarantining because you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19.
  • Watch for symptoms, even if mild, of cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • If possible, stay in a specific room in your home and use a separate bathroom.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others in your home at all times.
  • Wear a mask if you’re in any room with other people, unless you have trouble breathing.
  • Don’t share household items.
How to do daily cleaning and washing
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces in your home. As much as possible, if you are staying in a separate room and using a separate bathroom, clean them yourself, and have someone else clean the other areas of the home.
  • Thoroughly wash household items, like utensils, after using them.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
If at any point you start to feel sick or you develop symptoms
  • Call your health care provider right away. Let them know you are quarantining at home because you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19. If you don't have a health care provider, call 2-1-1 to be connected to care, or contact the nearest federally qualified health center or one of Vermont's free & referral clinics.
  • If you’re having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the hospital.
  • If you have mild illness, treat your symptoms at home by getting plenty of rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking fever-reducing medication if needed.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, begin isolation immediately. Find out what to do if you test positive for COVID-19.
When to get medical care immediately

Get medical care immediately if you have trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or changes in color on your lips, gums, face, around the eyes, or nails. Tell your health care provider or 9-1-1 that you are quarantining at home because you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19.

These documents were last revised in November 2021 and will be updated soon. See the new guidance in the tables above.

What to do if you test positive for COVID-19
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