Close Contacts and Tracing: COVID-19 - Minnesota Dept. of Health
As we learn more about COVID-19, recommendations and guidance are updated frequently. Please check back often.

Close Contacts and Tracing: COVID-19

On this page:
What is a close contact
How 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 PCR test: 7-day quarantine
Get tested
More information

What is a close contact

In general, a close contact (exposure) 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.

COVID-19 can take up to 14 days to make you sick. You can spread COVID-19 to others several days before you have any symptoms, or even if you never have any symptoms, so it is important to separate yourself from others after an exposure so you don’t spread the virus without knowing it.

If you are at high risk of severe illness, you may be able to get medicine to prevent disease. Refer to COVID-19 Medication Options for more information.

Fully vaccinated: It has been 14 days (two weeks) since you received the second dose in a two-dose series or the first dose in a one-dose series of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Not fully vaccinated: Either you have not been vaccinated or it has not yet been 14 days (two weeks) since your last dose in your COVID-19 vaccine series.

Quarantine: Staying home and away from others when you might have been exposed to the virus.

Isolation: Staying home and away from others when you test positive, feel sick, or have symptoms of the virus.

If you have close contact with someone who has had a positive COVID-19 test (regardless of whether a test occurs at a clinic, testing site, at home, or at another setting), follow the appropriate guidance below.

If you are not fully vaccinated

  • Stay home and away from others (quarantine) and wear a mask if other people are around.
  • Get tested immediately. If the test is negative, test again three to five days after the last time you were close to the person with COVID-19. If you are considering a shortened quarantine period of seven days, your second test must be a PCR test that occurs at least five full days after your last exposure. You should also follow the list of considerations below (Under certain conditions and a negative COVID-19 PCR test: 7-day quarantine).
  • Watch for symptoms for 14 days. If you start to have any symptoms, get tested again right away.
  • If you test positive or start to have symptoms, follow the recommendations on If You Are Sick or Test Positive.

If you are fully vaccinated

  • Get tested three to five days after exposure.
  • Wear a mask in public, indoor settings for 14 days following exposure or until you receive a negative test result.
  • Consider wearing a mask at home for 14 days or until you receive a negative test result if you live with someone who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease, or unvaccinated (including children under the age of 12).
  • You do not need to quarantine if you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19. You should watch for symptoms for 14 days.
  • If you start to have any symptoms, stay home and away from others immediately (isolate), get tested again, and follow other recommendations on If You Are Sick or Test Positive.

If you had COVID-19 in the past three months

If you have recovered from COVID-19 in the past three months and are exposed again:

  • You do not need to get tested unless you develop symptoms.
  • You do not need to quarantine if ALL of the following are true:
    • Your illness was laboratory confirmed in the past three months.
    • You have fully recovered.
    • You do not currently have any symptoms of COVID-19.

If you are a K-12 student

  • If you are a student in an indoor K-12 classroom setting and were within 3-6 feet of another student with COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time. This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting. For more information about close contacts in schools, refer to Schools and Child Care COVID-19: Best Practice Recommendations.

If you live or work in a health care facility

How to quarantine

  • 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 others, including people who are fully vaccinated.
  • Separate yourself from other people in your home, especially from those who are at 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, obesity, or weakened immune systems. 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.

How long to keep away from others (quarantine)

If you are not fully vaccinated and have close contact with someone with COVID-19, 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 PCR test result.

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 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, visit Protect Yourself and Others: Traveling.

Even after 10 days you should 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 PCR 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, visit Protect Yourself and Others: Traveling.

Even after seven days you should 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.

Get tested

If you are not fully vaccinated, you should get tested immediately and, if negative, three to five days after the contact. If you are fully vaccinated, you should get tested three to five days after the contact. Anyone, regardless of vaccination status, should get tested immediately if you start to have symptoms.

Whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated, if you start to have any symptoms, get tested again.

If your test results are positive, or if you start to feel sick, follow the recommendations on If You Are Sick or Test Positive.

More information

Download the free COVIDaware MN app to get notified if you have been near someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

Updated Wednesday, 06-Oct-2021 16:51:25 CDT