Social distancing vs quarantine vs self-isolation: What should I do?

Since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic started to make its way across the globe earlier this year, there have been many buzz words used to instruct people on behaviours to practice to control the spread of the virus.

If you display symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, you should avoid being in public and self-isolate.

From social distancing to quarantine to self-isolation, it can become information overload for many people.

Social Distancing

To be clear, social distancing, also called physical distancing, means maintaining space between yourself and others who are not part of your household. Six feet, or two arms’ length, is the recommended distance. It also means not gathering in groups and staying away from crowded spaces.


Quarantine refers to separating and restricting the movement of people who may have been exposed to the virus to see if they become ill.

Member of Parliament Norman Dunn visiting members of his constituency in one of three St Mary communities quarantined following several COVID-19 cases.

Now, to the term we need to focus on, self-isolation. What is it and when should we do it?


Self-isolation is staying at home because you are experiencing one or more symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

Once you experience those symptoms, it is important that you limit activities outside your home, do not go to work, school or public, and avoid using public transportation.

Tips for self-isolation include:

  • Stay within one area of the house away from other household members.
  • Avoid contact with older people or those with chronic health conditions.
  • Avoid contact with visitors.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Sleep alone.
  • Regularly wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.

After doing that, you should monitor the symptoms and make contact with the health authorities if they worsen. You may call 888-633-5683, 888-754-7792, the local health department or your health care provider.