To help stop the spread of COVID-19, it’s important to understand the distinction between isolation and quarantine.

With regards to time away from work, employees should follow their companies’ COVID-19 response protocols. Employers, please scroll down for GBCA’s Suggested Response Protocols Flow Chart for COVID-19 Exposures.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (added notes in parentheses from GBCA):

  • Isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.
  • Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
    • (i.e. You are sick.)
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
    • (i.e. You might get sick because you’ve been exposed.)

Isolation Recommendations

As of October 28, 2020, the recommended time for isolation of people with COVID-19 is at least 10 days from the date of first symptoms. Isolation lasts until the following conditions:

  • At least 10 days since symptoms first appeared AND
  • At least 24 hours with no fever WITHOUT fever-reducing medications AND
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving. **Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation​

Isolation can last longer than 10 days from the date of first symptoms if the other two conditions are not met.

When you isolate, stay at home except to get medical care:

  • Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately
  • Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible
  • Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets
  • Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils
  • Wear a mask when around other people, if you are able to

Click below for more information about isolation with COVID-19:



Quarantine Recommendations

As of October 28, 2020, the recommended time for quarantine of people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 (excluding people who have had COVID-19 within the past 3 months), or who have traveled to known COVID-19 hotspots, is at least 14 days from the last contact with COVID-19 or date of travel.

  • The following situations count as close contact:
    • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more
    • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
    • You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
    • You shared eating or drinking utensils
    • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you
  • If you are caring or living with someone with COVID-19 (in a situation where you cannot completely isolate from them), then the 14 day quarantine period starts AFTER the COVID-19 positive person completes their isolation period (see above for the conditions for isolation).
  • If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 during your quarantine and test positive for COVID-19, switch to the calculation of recommended time for isolation.
    • For example, if you develop symptoms of COVID-19 on day 12 of your quarantine and receive a positive test for COVID-19, this day will count as the first day of isolation, meaning that you will be in quarantine and isolation for at least 22 days (12 days of quarantine + at least 10 days of isolation).

When you quarantine, stay at home and monitor your health:

  • Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19
  • Watch for fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19
  • If possible, stay away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19

Click below for a guide on how to calculate the length of a quarantine after COVID-19 exposure:



If you have any questions on how to calculate your time in quarantine or isolation, contact your medical provider.

Click below for the City of Philadelphia’s updates on COVID-19 hotspots and travel recommendations:



Click below to download GBCA’s Suggested Response Protocols Flow Chart for COVID-19 Exposures for Philadelphia’s construction industry: