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Update: new COVID-19 self-isolation rules

The self-isolation advice for people with COVID-19 has changed. It is now possible to end self-isolation after seven days if the individual has two negative lateral flow tests taken 24 hours apart. The first test can be taken on sixth day and, if that's negative, a follow up test should be taken the following day. 

This will give people the ability to return to work before the end of the ten day isolation period if they are well enough to do so. 

Who has to self-isolate?

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate even if they don't have symptoms.

Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 (which with Omicron are more likely to reflect 'typical' cold symptoms initially), should remain at home and self-isolate immediately and arrange for a PCR test. If it's negative, they can return to work.

If your staff live with someone with COVID-19 they have a higher risk of getting the virus. However, they only have to self-isolate if they develop symptoms or haven't been fully vaccinated. People are fully vaccinated 14 days after having received two doses of an approved vaccine (such as Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca or Moderna/Spikevax) or one dose of the single-dose Janssen vaccine. However, the government has updated its guidance and now 'strongly advises' close contacts to take daily lateral flow tests during the period they are at the highest risk of becoming infected (which is seven days for most people). 

Note: people do not need to have received a booster jab to be fully vaccinated. And, anyone who is medically exempt doesn't have to self-isolate unless they develop symptoms.  

Are the rules different in Wales and Scotland?

Wales have adopted a similar approach as the UK government. However, its guidance is different. The Welsh government says that people who test negative after seven full days, who have a high temperature should continue to self-isolate until their temperature has returned to normal. That advice is not included in the UK's Guidance: Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection or on the NHS's guide: when to self-isolate.

In Scotland the rules are different and anyone who tests positive has to self-isolate for 10 days. And, those who are close contacts of the person who has tested positive also have to self-isolate for 10 days even if they are fully vaccinated.

Need more information?

We answered a number of FAQ's about self-isolation, COVID-19 vaccinations and GDPR here which you may find useful. 

Our Coronavirus updates

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