From Monday, January 17 people in England who are self-isolating with COVID-19 will have the option to reduce their isolation period after 5 full days if they test negative on both day 5 and day 6 and do not have a temperature, the Government has announced.
The first test must be taken no earlier than day 5 of the self-isolation period, and the second must be taken the following day. If an individual is positive on day 5, then a negative test is required on day 6 and day 7 to release from isolation.
It is essential that 2 negative rapid lateral flow tests are taken on consecutive days and reported before individuals return to their job or education, if leaving self-isolation earlier than the full 10-day period. For instance, if an individual is positive on day 5, then a negative test is required on both day 6 and day 7 to release from self-isolation, or positive on day 6, then a negative test is required on days 7 and 8, and so on until the end of day 10.
Those who leave self-isolation on or after day 6 are strongly advised to wear face coverings and limit close contact with other people in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, work from home if they can do so and minimise contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with COVID-19.
The default self-isolation period continues to be 10 days.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "After reviewing all of the evidence, we’ve made the decision to reduce the minimum self-isolation period to 5 full days in England. These 2 tests are critical to these balanced and proportionate plans and I’d urge everyone to take advantage of the capacity we’ve built up in tests so we can restore more freedom to this country, whilst we are keeping everyone safe."
Existing public health measures remain in place, including:
- staying at home if you feel unwell
- getting a test if you experience any COVID-19 symptoms
- wearing a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces
- working from home if possible
- maintaining social distancing and regular hand washing
- taking up the offer of the free COVID-19 vaccine
Self-isolation may continue in certain circumstances, such as for those who work with vulnerable people.
In line with today’s announcement, the government will also consider the guidance for close contacts of people with COVID-19, including around the advice for fully vaccinated contacts to take daily rapid lateral flow tests for 7 days. Currently The rules for contacts have not changed. Fully vaccinated individuals who are identified as contacts of someone with COVID-19 should take daily rapid lateral flow tests for 7 days but are not legally required to self-isolate. Unvaccinated contacts are legally required to self-isolate for the full 10-day period.You can read more on the Government website HERE.