22 Dec 2021
People infected with Covid in England can stop self-isolating up to three days early if they test negative twice. You can now end quarantine after seven days instead of 10 by providing negative lateral flow results on day six and day seven.
The announcement on the change in isolation times - based on the latest guidance from health experts - was made by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) who said it would minimise disruption caused by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
The change comes amid a spike in cases caused by the new Covid variant, which has created staff shortages for businesses, health services and rail services.
Full details on the new rules can be found on nhs.uk here
This new guidance applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status and also applies to anyone currently in isolation, so people who tested positive or first showed symptoms on Friday last week could end their isolation in time for Christmas Day if they meet the conditions.
However, people should not end their isolation early if they are still experiencing symptoms and anyone ending isolation on day seven is strongly advised to limit contact with vulnerable people, not visit crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, and work from home.
People who are not double-vaccinated and come in close contact with a positive case must still isolate for a full 10 days.
Another 90,629 new Covid cases were reported across the UK on Tuesday - slightly down on the all-time highs announced last week. Meanwhile, a further 897,979 people received their booster jab or third dose.
Announcing the change to isolation rules, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said Omicron's rapid spread posed a threat to critical public services this winter.
The agency said the new self-isolation rules reflected updated medical advice, which would be published "in due course".
UKSHA chief executive, Dr Jenny Harries, said the new rules would help break chains of transmission while minimising the impact on lives and livelihoods.
Health Secretary, Sajid Javid said the UKHSA was very comfortable that the protection provided by lateral flow tests was very similar to 10 days of isolation without tests.