How to protect yourself and others

COVID-19 is spread from person to person. In particular, it is thought to spread between people that have close contact with one another (within 2 metres) and through infected respiratory droplets that come out when you speak, cough or sneeze.

To reduce your chances of becoming infected or infecting others, it is important to self-isolate if you're unwell.

Alongside these measures, the following steps also help to prevent the infection from spreading and should be carried out at all times by everyone:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. If soap and water is not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand gel
  • When coughing or sneezing, do so either into a tissue or into the crease of your elbow. Dispose of used tissues immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Stay away from people who are unwell
  • Stay at home if you are feeling unwell

    How to wash your hands

    Watch the video

    Wearing a face covering

    In England, the government recommends that people continue to wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport. For more information and rules in other areas of the UK, visit the page. Face coverings should not be worn by children under 3 years old and people with breathing difficulties.

    When used correctly, scientific evidence suggests that face coverings prevent the spread of COVID-19 by people who don’t have symptoms. For more information on face coverings and how to use them effectively, read our face covering blog.

    Controlling the spread

    Although many COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, it is important that we all use personal judgement to manage our own risk. This includes minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts.

    COVID-19 spreads in a chain, from one person to the next, through close sustained contact. When combined with proper respiratory hygiene and regular hand washing, the aim is to slow the spread of COVID-19 through limiting the amount of contact we have with each other, by breaking the chain of transmission. This can ultimately reduce the burden on healthcare providers, allowing them to better manage the number of COVID-19 cases that are still appearing.


    The aim of self-isolation is to avoid infecting others with COVID-19 when you or someone in your household is unwell.

    What is self-isolation?
    Self-isolation means remaining indoors and avoiding contact with any other people, to avoid spreading the virus to your family, friends and the wider community.

    For practical tips on how to self-isolate, have a look at our self-isolation page and watch our video.

    Who does self-isolation apply to?

    Although you are no longer legally required to self-isolate, the UK Government recommends that the following people try to self-isolate:

    People who have COVID-19 symptoms

      If you have a high temperature, a new continuous cough or anosmia, you should still try to self-isolate from the day your symptoms start. You should remain in isolation for as long as you have a fever and feel too unwell to return to work or do your usual activities. Please see the NHS site for the most up to date advice.

      People who live with someone with COVID-19 symptoms

        If one person has symptoms of COVID-19, the rest of the household should try to avoid contact with them as much as possible. They should also try to limit contact with people outside of the household, as it is likely that people who live in the same household will infect one another, or already be infected. Please see the NHS site for the most up to date advice.

        You can return to your usual activities when you feel well enough and no longer have a fever.

        Watch our video guides

        • How to wash your hands

        • Why it's important to wash your hands