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So you’ve been told to self-isolate for 14 days. But what does that really mean?

Crikey put out a straw poll on twitter — response rate entirely unscientific — and discovered confusion reigns among even the savvy denizens of the twittersphere. 

The question was “what does the term ‘self-isolate’ mean to you?” Here’s some of the responses we got.

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First were those who took it as a lifestyle question:

“It gives me an excuse not to go out, to luxuriate at home in my own lovely company.”

“A well deserved holiday from all things human.”

“Listening to Wagner’s Ring Cycle.”

A small number conceded they didn’t really have a clue:

“Stop all human contact I would think? I’d love to know if that’s correct”

Most people thought you needed to stay indoors, but you could still sneak out: 

“Table for one at your local restaurant.”

This brought them in conflict with those supporting a lockdown:

“Stay home … Only leave if you need medical attention after speaking to your doctor on the phone.”

The stay-at-home option was fraught because, well, how do you eat?

“Stay at home apart from walking dog – keep away from other people. Get food delivered — actually not, since the supermarkets are no longer delivering. Read too much Twitter. Get miserable.”


In fact what to do with the dog caused the most confusion of all:

“Are we still allowed to walk our dogs?”

“No, a doctor on ABC radio this morning said you cannot even do that! I figured you could go for a scenic drive  in the safety of your car, maybe walk the dogs in an isolated spot but apparently not. How awful. My dogs are huge.”


“How can you go to shops and not walk the dog? I would have thought you could walk the dog and not go to shops.”


One third of the Twitterati were close to the ideal — and sure of their ground.

“I’m ‘self-isolating’ [because] I’m immunocompromised. This means staying at home, avoiding any close contact, so no visitors.” 

“Stay at home in a room separate from the rest of your household. Don’t share your bed or meals with anyone. Sounds pretty lonely but very necessary.”


“Isolate yourself from others. No physical contact. Diligence with personal hygiene-handwashing; surface cleaning; no visitors; no visits.”

So what’s the official advice? 

In summary, NSW Health says:

  •  If you are sharing your home with others, you should stay in a different room from other people or be separated as much as possible.
  • Wear a surgical mask when you are in the same room as another person, and when seeking medical care. Use a separate bathroom, if available.
  • Visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home should not visit while you are isolating.
  • If you need groceries or medicines (including prescription medicines), ask a family member or friend (who is not in isolation) to deliver them to your home or shop for groceries online. To prevent infecting other people, make sure you wear a mask when receiving a delivery or have the groceries left at your door.

But no mention of the dog.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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