Revised Isolation and Quarantine Guidance

North Andover Health Department
  Community and Economic Development Division

December 29, 2021

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened the recommended time for isolation and quarantine for individuals with or exposed to COVID-19.  Today the State of Massachusetts adopted and posted these new isolation and quarantine guidelines.  The change is motivated by the data which indicate that the majority of transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and then 2-3 days after symptom onset.  Therefore, people who test positive are required to isolate for 5 days and wear a mask for 5 days after that to minimize the risk of infecting others.  Please read below for specific guidelines for both Isolation (only for people who test positive) and Quarantine (only for people who were exposed and are considered a close contact). 

Isolation Guidelines (only for a person who tests positive for COVID-19)

  • If you test positive, then you must isolate for 5 days (reduced from 10 days), followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others;

  • If your symptoms are gone or resolving after 5 days, you can end isolation;

  • If you have a fever after 5 days, stay home until your fever is gone.

Quarantine Guidelines (only for a person who was exposed and considered a close contact*)

*A close contact is a person who was within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes to someone who was infectious and who has tested positive for COVID-19.  A close contact is someone only considered exposed to the virus, but they have not tested positive and they have not become and may not become infectious.

  • Someone considered a close contact and considered exposed will need to Quarantine for 5 days;

  • You must continue to wear a mask for an additional 5 days after your 5 day quarantine is over;

  • Get tested after the 5 day quarantine, if possible.

These Quarantine Guidelines apply to:

  • Anyone who is unvaccinated;

  • Anyone who has not received a booster;

  • Anyone who received their second Moderna or Pfizer vaccination over 6 months ago;

  • Anyone who received a primary J&J vaccination over 2 months ago.

For all those exposed, best practice would include a test on or after day 5 following exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.

These quarantine guidelines do not apply to:

  • Anyone who has received a booster.

  • Anyone who has received their second Moderna or Pfizer vaccination within 6 months

  • Anyone who has received a primary J&J vaccination within 2 months.

  • Please monitor yourself for allergy or cold-like symptoms if you are not subject to the quarantine requirements

Alternatively, if a 5-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure and self-monitor for symptoms during this period. 

Vaccination is the BEST way to protect yourself and reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our community.  

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