COVID-19: Information for Household and Close Contacts

Information on types of contacts and when to isolate or stay at home.

Last updated: 28 March 2022

In light of new variants of COVID-19, such as Omicron, the Ministry’s approach to case management and contact tracing will continue to be updated to reduce widespread community transmission.

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Household Contacts

How will I know if I’m a Household Contact?

If you live with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 (a case) then you are likely to hear from them that you are a Household Contact*.

You may receive a text message telling you that you are a household contact which will provide you with a link to find out what this means. If you have a NZ mobile, then these texts will come from either the 2328 or 2648 number. If you are concerned that a text is not genuine, you can call or email Healthline and request a call back.

You are a Household Contact if you normally share a residence with a person who has tested positive (either on a permanent or part time, or shared custody basis) and you spent at least one night or day (more than 8 hours) in that residence while the person with COVID-19 was infectious.

It is anticipated that this will include people living in houses and flats.

These people are not considered Household Contacts, but may be Close Contacts:

  • If they live in the same group accommodation as the case (for instance, aged residential care (ARC) facilities, halls of residences, boarding houses, hostels, backpackers, transitional housing etc) or
  • If they don’t live with the case but may have spent night together.

unless a Medical Officer of Health deems it appropriate to apply the Household Contact definition.

What does it mean if I am a Household Contact?

If you are considered a Household Contact you must follow these steps (whether you are vaccinated against COVID-19 or not):

  • Self-isolate from the day that the first person in your household receives their positive test result, until they complete their 7 days of self-isolation and are released.
  • When the first case in your house gets to days 3 and 7 of their isolation, you need to get tested using a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT).
  • If symptoms develop at any stage, you need to get tested using a RAT.
  • Avoid or minimise contact with the person with COVID-19 as much as possible during your isolation period.
  • You can end your self-isolation on the same day as the first ‘case’ in the household, provided you have no new or worsening symptoms and your tests were negative.
  • Your isolation does not restart if additional members of your household are identified as cases during the first case’s isolation period.
  • After the initial isolation period ends there is a 10-day window during which no Household Contacts of the original case can be re-classified as Household Contacts. You only need to begin isolation again during these 10 days if you test positive yourself.
  • 10 days after the original isolation period ends the usual rules apply. If a new household member (not the original case) tests positive, they and all other Household Contacts (who have not yet become cases themselves) must isolate for 7 days.

A recovered case is exempt from becoming a Household Contact for 90 days after their recovery. The factsheet below provides helpful information on COVID-19 and precautions you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. The fact sheet should be read together with the advice on self-isolation or staying at home (viewable at Advice for people with COVID-19) and any specific advice that may be given to you by your doctor, Healthline (0800 358 5453) or public health official.

Critical Service Workers

If you are a household contact who is vaccinated and asymptomatic, and work for a critical service, you may be able to continue to work through the Close Contact Exemption Scheme.

Household Contacts factsheet

Last updated 16 March 2022.

Close Contacts

How will I know if I’m a Close Contact?

You may be told that you are a close contact by someone you know who has tested positive for COVID-19, your employer, or your education provider.

You are considered a close contact if you have:

  • Been close (within 1.5 metres) to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes and they were not wearing a mask or was not wearing it properly,
  • Had direct contact with respiratory secretions or saliva from the person with COVID-19 (eg, kissing, shared a cigarette, vape or drink bottle, or if the person coughed or sneezed directly on you) 
  • Spent time in an indoor space for more than 1 hour with the person with COVID-19 AND at least one of the following: 
    • the person with COVID-19 was singing, shouting, smoking, vaping, exercising, or dancing
    • the person with COVID-19 was not wearing a mask or wasn’t wearing it properly
    • the indoor space was poorly ventilated (i.e., there were no windows or doors open)
    • the indoor space was smaller than 100m2 (about three double garages)

The above only applies if you have been in contact with a COVID-19 case during their infectious period, which is two days before symptom onset or the date they were tested (if they have no symptoms).

What does it mean if I am a Close Contact?

If you have been told you are a close contact, then:

  • Self-monitor for symptoms for ten days
  • If symptoms develop at any time, you need to get tested immediately using a Rapid Antigen Test.

Close contacts are not required to isolate during Phase 3.

If you have been identified as a close contact, you may choose to change your behaviour based on personal circumstances. This could include working from home, not visiting vulnerable family or friends, or isolating if you choose to. You can find advice here: Isolating from others

If you use the NZ COVID Tracer app and have Bluetooth enabled, you may get an orange alert telling you that you are a close contact. The alert will tell you what to do - it is important that you follow these instructions. Learn more about the NZ COVID Tracer app.

Information on how to contact Healthline if you are deaf or hard of hearing can be found at COVID-19: Information and advice for the deaf community.

Regardless of guidelines for testing and self-isolation, any time you develop symptoms of COVID-19 stay at home and get a test.

Financial and welfare support

If you are required to self-isolate the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) is available to help you. Most people can manage self-isolation with help from whānau, family and friends. There may be financial help available if you need it. MSD can also connect you to local community organisations for help with food and other welfare needs.

Legal requirements

There are section 70 orders that legally require those who have been identified as a household contact to isolate at home. Read the section 70 public health orders.

You can find out how your personal information is managed throughout the contact tracing process at COVID-19: Your privacy.

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