Blog 5 COVID-19 5 What’s the difference between quarantine, self-isolation and social distancing?

What’s the difference between quarantine, self-isolation and social distancing?

5 min read
Kristina Ikavalko

Kristina Ikavalko

Creative Content Writer at

Published on April 09, 2020

Last updated on January 4th, 2021

By now we have all heard the words “quarantine”, “self-isolation”, and “social distancing” multiple times across various news and social media platforms. While these terms are all quite similar to each other, it’s important to know the distinction for each term, and what guidelines you should, therefore, be following.

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Social Distancing  

At this time, as ordered by our provincial and federal governments, everybody should be practicing social distancing. This means, you should:   

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Keep a distance of at least 2 metres or 6 feet (approximately
2 arm lengths) from anyone outside your household.

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Limit contact with “high risk” individuals, like older
adults and those with underlying health conditions.

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Limit outings to grocery stores – preferably once a week.

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Avoid crowded places and non-essential gatherings. 

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Avoid common greetings, such as handshakes.

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Quarantining separates and restricts the movement of people who may have been exposed to a contagious disease (COVID-19) to see if they fall ill. It is an important precautionary measure.

It is mandated by the government for a period of 14 days if:  

  • You are returning from travel outside of Canada.
  • You’ve been told by public health authority that you may have been exposed and need to quarantine despite being asymptomatic.
  • You have had close contact with a suspected, probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • what is the difference between isolation and quarantine canada
    Rules for Quarantining

    Things to do: 

    isolation vs quarantine canada

    Stay at home + monitor for symptoms such as fever, cough and
    shortness of breath. If symptoms develop, call 811 or your health care provider to see if you should be tested and for further guidance. 

    self isolation vs quarantine canada

    Wash hands regularly, avoid touching your face and wipe down
    high-touch areas.

    difference between isolation and quarantine

     Practice social distancing in your home by staying at least 2 metres away from other household members.

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    >> Recommended Reading: Social Distancing Rules In Canada


    Typically considered more acute than quarantine, self-isolation separates sick people with COVID-19 from people who are not sick.

    covid 19 update canada
    Rules for Self-isolation

    It is necessary if: 

    • You’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are waiting to hear the results of a lab test for COVID-19
    • You have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild.
    • You have returned from travel outside Canada with symptoms of COVID-19 (mandatory)
    • You’ve been told by public health authority that you may have been exposed and need to isolate.

    Things to do: 

    self isolation rules canada

    If you live with others, isolate yourself in one room.
    If this isn’t possible, maintain at least a 6 foot circle of space around you. 

    quarantine and isolation difference

    Use separate bowls/plates/cutlery/utensils + use kitchen at different times.

    self isolation canada

    Minimize time spent in shared spaces. 

    difference between quarantine and self isolation

    Use separate bathroom from rest of household if possible. 

    canada isolation vs quarantine

    Wear a mask at home when in the same room as others
    and when someone brings you food and necessities.

    vancouver quarantine rules

    Wash hands after interacting with others. Use soap and water.
    If that’s not possible, use hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes.

    self isolation

    Wipe down surfaces such as door knobs, cellphones, computers, countertops and other areas touched.

    social distancing canada

    Monitor symptoms and if they worsen call your health care
    provider or local hospital immediately for further instruction.

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    As always, check reliable, government sources for the most up-to-date information. This is an evolving crisis and advice changes from time to time.

    Recommended Sources:

    For BC Landlords and Tenants, check out our previous posts:


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