Close Contacts and Tracing: COVID-19 - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced updated quarantine guidance on Dec. 7, 2020. This guidance is on Close Contacts and Tracing. We are working to update other areas of the website, documents, and other materials as quickly as possible.

These updates are based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance that shortens quarantine in certain situations. CDC: Options to Reduce Quarantine for Contacts of Persons with SARS-CoV-2 Infection Using Symptom Monitoring and Diagnostic Testing

Close Contacts and Tracing: COVID-19

On this page:
What is a close contact
Download COVIDawareMN app
Separate yourself from others
Who does not need to quarantine
How long to keep away from others (quarantine)
    The safest option: 14-day quarantine
    Under certain conditions: 10-day quarantine
    Under certain conditions and a negative COVID-19 test: 7-day quarantine
Get tested
More information

What is a close contact

In general, a close contact means being less than 6 feet from someone for 15 minutes or more throughout a 24-hour period. However, even shorter periods of time or longer distances can result in spread of the virus. The longer someone is close to the person who has COVID-19, and the closer they are, the greater the chance the virus can spread.

  • If you have close contact with someone who has been told by a doctor, clinic or hospital that they have COVID-19:
    • Watch yourself for symptoms for 14 days.
    • Stay home.
    • Wash your hands often.
    • Clean surfaces you touch.
Download the free COVIDaware MN app to get notified if you have been near someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

Separate yourself from others

If you had close contact with a person with COVID-19 (an exposure), you need to stay home and away from others (quarantine). COVID-19 can take up to 14 days to make you sick, and some people with COVID-19 never feel sick, so you need to separate yourself from others so you don't spread the virus without knowing it.

  • Get tested for COVID-19 five days or later after the exposure, even if you do not have symptoms. If test results are positive, follow recommendations on Information for Confirmed Cases and Contacts.
  • Stay home. Do not go to work, school, or any other place outside the home except for testing or needed medical care.
  • Stay away from people who may be at high-risk for getting very sick from COVID-19, including older adults, those living in long-term care facilities, and people with health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, severe obesity, or weakened immune systems.
  • If you start to feel sick, separate yourself from other people in your home. If possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Use a separate bathroom, if you can.
  • Do not use public transportation, ride-sharing (such as Uber or Lyft), or taxis.
  • Wear a facemask if around other people. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then wash hands thoroughly.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items. Do not share food, dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

Who does not need to quarantine

If you have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days and have close contact with someone with COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine if ALL of the following are true:

  • Your illness was confirmed with a positive lab test in the past 90 days.
  • You have fully recovered.
  • You do not currently have any symptoms of COVID-19.

Even someone who has recovered should still continue to stay 6 feet from others, wear a mask, wash their hands often, and follow other precautions.

For more information, see CDC: When to Quarantine.

How long to keep away from others (quarantine)

The safest option is to stay home and away from others for 14 days. In certain situations, you may end your quarantine after 10 days, or after seven days with a negative COVID-19 test result.

You cannot end your quarantine before seven days for any reason.

Please note that the below recommendations are not universal. Some settings and workplaces, like health care, have different rules about quarantine. Check with your employer.

The safest option: 14-day quarantine

14-day quarantine timeline, the safest option

In this situation, your first day of quarantine starts the day after your last contact with the person with COVID-19.

You should stay away from others for 14 days if:

  • You live in a building with other people, where it's hard to stay away from others and easy to spread the virus to multiple people, like a long-term care facility.
  • You have traveled outside of Minnesota, other than crossing the border for work, study, medical care, or personal safety or security. Under certain conditions, a shortened quarantine may be possible. Note: Your travel "exposure" period ends upon arrival back home.

If someone in your home has COVID-19:

Stay home and away from others for 14 days.

14-day quarantine timeline, the option if you live with the contact

When you live with someone who has COVID-19, you should quarantine during the time they might be contagious (their isolation period), as well as the time you could develop COVID-19. This may mean you need to quarantine for 24 days or more.

Your 14-day quarantine period starts the day after the person you live with completes their isolation period.

This is usually:
  • 10 days from the day their symptoms started.
  • If they didn't have symptoms, 10 days from the day they got tested.

If multiple people in your home have COVID-19, your 14-day quarantine period starts after the last person has completed their isolation.

How long to stay home if sick provides more information about isolation for people who have COVID-19.


Under certain conditions: 10-day quarantine

Stay home for at least ten days.

10-day quarantine timeline, watch for symptoms through 14 days

You may consider being around others after 10 days if:

  • You have not had any symptoms.
  • You have not had a positive test for COVID-19.
  • No one in your home has COVID-19.
  • You do not live or work in a building where it's hard to stay away from others and easy to spread the virus to multiple people, like a long-term care facility.
  • Your contact with someone with COVID-19 had a beginning and an end. For example, your close contact happened at:
    • School
    • Sports event
    • Work
    • Social gathering
    • You traveled outside of Minnesota for reasons other than crossing the border for work, study, medical care, or personal safety or security, and all of the above are true. Note: Your "exposure" period ends upon arrival back home. For more information, see Protect Yourself and Others: Traveling.

Even after 10 days you must still:

  • Watch for symptoms through day 14. If you have any symptoms, stay home, separate yourself from others, and get tested right away, even if you tested negative earlier.
  • Continue to wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from other people.

Under certain conditions and a negative COVID-19 test: 7-day quarantine

7-day quarantine timeline requiring a negative COVID-19 test after 5 full days after close contact and watch for symptoms through 14 days

You may consider being around others after seven days only if:

  • You get tested for COVID-19 at least five full days after you had close contact with someone with COVID-19, and the test is negative.
    • You must get a negative PCR test, not an antigen test or antibody/blood test. Learn more about the differences at Types of COVID-19 Tests.
    • All tests offered at the state's community testing sites are PCR tests. Visit COVID-19 Community Testing Sites to make an appointment.
  • You have not had any symptoms.
  • You have not had a positive test for COVID-19.
  • No one in your home has COVID-19.
  • You do not live or work in a building where it's hard to stay away from others and easy to spread the virus to multiple people, like a long-term care facility.
  • Your contact with someone with COVID-19 had a beginning and an end. For example, your close contact happened at:
    • School
    • Sports event
    • Work
    • Social gathering
  • You traveled outside of Minnesota for reasons other than crossing the border for work, study, medical care, or personal safety or security, and all of the above are true. Note: Your "exposure" period ends upon arrival back home. For more information, see Protect Yourself and Others: Traveling.

Even after seven days you must still:

  • Watch for symptoms through day 14. If you have any symptoms, stay home, separate yourself from others, and get tested, even though you tested negative earlier.
  • Continue to wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet away from other people.

You cannot end your quarantine before seven days for any reason.

Get tested

If you have symptoms, get tested right away. If you do not have symptoms, get tested at least five days after the last time you were close to a person with COVID-19.

If your test results are positive, follow recommendations at If You Are Sick.

If your test is negative and you start to have any symptoms, get tested again.

More information

Updated Monday, 28-Dec-2020 13:49:47 CST