Preventing and controlling outbreaks of COVID-19 in prisons and places of detention

Information for prisons and other prescribed places of detention on coronavirus (COVID-19).


Recommended PPE for staff in prisons and community offender accommodation (COVID-19)

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This guidance is currently under review and will be updated to reflect recent policy changes for people with COVID-19 and contacts of a case of COVID-19 in the secure settings.

This guidance will assist custodial, detention and healthcare staff in addressing coronavirus (COVID-19) in a prison or prescribed place of detention (PPD).

The following establishments in England are included within the definition of PPDs used in this guidance:

  • prisons (both public and privately managed)
  • immigration removal centres (IRC)
  • children and young people’s secure estate (CYPSE) young offender institutions (YOI), secure training centres (STC) and secure children’s homes (SCH)

Controlling the spread of infection in PPDs will rely on co-ordinating healthcare and custodial staff working with local PHE Health Protection Teams.

Recommendations made here may also be relevant to Prison Escort and Custodial Services (PECS) staff, particularly environmental cleaning recommendations and advice to staff.

The Recommended PPE for staff in prisons and community offender accommodation PDF is suitable for printing and viewing online.

Please note

This guidance is of a general nature and should be treated as a guide, and in the event of any conflict between any applicable legislation (including the health and safety legislation) and this guidance, the applicable legislation shall prevail.

Published 16 March 2020
Last updated 17 January 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated information on: ending self-isolation for prisoners/detainees and staff who test positive for COVID-19; testing information for staff and prisoners/detainees who are identified as a contact; return to work criteria for staff who test positive for COVID-19 or who are identified as a contact; visitors to prisons.

  2. Added statement explaining that the guidance was currently under review and would be updated shortly.

  3. Updated guidance on isolation requirements for fully vaccinated prisoners or detainees if a contact of a case.

  4. Updated in line with changes to self-isolation for contacts from 16 August.

  5. Added sections on testing and vaccination. Updated guidance in line with Step 4 of the roadmap for 19 July.

  6. Updated 'Recommended PPE for staff in prisons and community offender accommodation' PDF.

  7. Updated with regard to testing on reception.

  8. Updated self-isolation period to 10 days.

  9. Added COVID-19 guidance for prisons and places of detention poster.

  10. Changed isolation period from 7 to 10 days.

  11. Added information on interpreting negative test results in those who are symptomatic.

  12. Added information relating to controlling outbreaks of COVID-19, transition of prisoners or detainees into the community and court appearances during outbreaks. Added separate PPE table.

  13. Added updated poster.

  14. Updated information on symptoms.

  15. Added clarification on guidance and legislation.

  16. Added poster.

  17. Added guidance poster.

  18. First published.