HSE outlines main cocooning measures

Cocooning is a measure to protect people who are over 70 years of age or those who are extremely medically vulnerable by minimising all interaction between them and others.

The HSE welcomes this initiative of Government and is strongly advising people over 70 years of age and those with serious underlying medical conditions which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to rigorously follow cocooning measures in order to keep themselves safe. To people in this category we say you are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of 2 weeks (This period is being kept under review).

The main cocooning measures are:

1.       Strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of COVID-19. These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough.

2.       Do not leave your house.

3.       Do not attend any gatherings. This includes gatherings of friends and families in private spaces for example family homes, weddings and religious services.

4.       Do not go out for shopping and, when arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact.

5.       Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.

6.       Do use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.

7.       Ensure you keep phones/devices charged, and have credit on your phone so that you can stay connected.

What if I need support with daily activities?

Visits from people who provide essential support to you such as healthcare, personal support with your daily needs or social care should continue, but carers and care workers must stay away if they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19.

You should, if possible, have an alternative person or list of people who can help you with your care if your main carer becomes unwell. If you are receiving Home Support from the HSE or a Home Support provider organisation you should discuss what arrangements can be made with them remembering that the best advice is to make sure the necessary support is provided to you but with the minimum contact necessary and keeping the number of visits to a minimum also. The HSE is also liaising with home support providers to ensure that this is the case. This may mean a change in the usual visitation rota or indeed some non-essential services paused but only where that is necessary and during the cocooning period.

If you have someone else living with you, they are not required to adopt these protective cocooning measures for themselves. They should do what they can to support you in cocooning and they should stringently follow guidance on physical distancing, reducing their contact outside the home. They should wash their hands thoroughly and regularly, especially upon arrival home and observe good respiratory etiquette at all times.


If you care for but don’t actually live with someone who is extremely medically vulnerable you should still stringently follow the public health guidance on physical distancing.

We know that stopping these activities will be difficult. You should try to identify ways of staying in touch with others and participating in your normal activities remotely from your home. However, you must not participate in alternative activities if they involve any direct contact with other people.

How can you get assistance with foods and medicines if you are cocooning?
In the first instance, family, friends and neighbours can support you once you adhere to cocooning guidelines and they adhere to physical distancing guidelines. Where possible use online services to do so.


If these options are not available to you, the Government is putting in place assistance through the local authorities, working with the voluntary sector services, to ensure you can have access to food, essential household supplies and medicines. Each local authority will publish contact details in the coming days.

ALONE is providing a telephone support line, seven days a week from 8am – 8pm, for all older people and their families to contact if they would like any advice, reassurance or additional support:  0818 222 024.  This support line is also open to extremely medically vulnerable people.

The support line complements the clinical advice being provided by the HSE through its website hse.ie


The HSELive team are available to answer questions the public from 8am - 8pm Monday to Friday and from 10am - 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Call 1850 24 1850.


Last updated on: 28 / 03 / 2020