What are the Covid self-isolation rules now?

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People with Covid in England can now stop self-isolating up to three days early – if they test negative twice.

The change reflects updated medical advice, but other UK nations have not yet changed their rules.

What are the new self-isolation rules in England?

People with Covid

New guidance allows people who have tested positive for Covid to self-isolate for seven days instead of 10, in most cases.

Two lateral flow tests are needed – the first no earlier than day six of isolation and a second 24 hours later. If the first tests are positive, further tests can be taken on other days.

If both tests are negative, you can stop self-isolating. People are asked to register their lateral flow results but do not have to do so.

The guidance applies whatever your vaccination status and can now be followed. It applies whether you have tested positive for Omicron or another variant.

However, anyone leaving self-isolation after seven days is "strongly advised to limit close contact with other people in crowded or poorly-ventilated spaces".

They should work from home and minimise contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness, the UK Health Security Agency says.

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Contacts of people with Covid

If you are a fully vaccinated (two doses) contact of someone who tested positive for Covid, you do not have to self-isolate but should do daily lateral flow tests (LFTs) for seven days. This also applies to people under 18 years and six months.

If one of the lateral flow tests is positive, you'll need to self-isolate and take a PCR test to verify the result.

However, those who are not double-jabbed will still have to isolate for the full 10 days if they are a close contact of a positive case.

When do I have to self-isolate in other parts of the UK?

Scotland

Unlike England, you should continue to self-isolate for 10 days if:

  • you test positive for Covid
  • anyone in your household tests positive – regardless of your age or vaccination status
  • you are an adult who is not double-vaccinated and you are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive

You must take a PCR test and self-isolate while you await the results if:

  • you have developed Covid symptoms
  • you are a fully vaccinated adult identified as a close contact of someone you don't live with

If your PCR test result is negative, you no longer need to isolate.

Wales

You must self-isolate for 10 days if you:

  • test positive for Covid
  • are not fully vaccinated and live with someone who tests positive OR have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive

You must also self-isolate while you are waiting for the results of a PCR test after developing Covid symptoms.

Wales has now introduced daily testing instead of self isolation for vaccinated close contacts – in line with England. This also applies to children aged five to 17.

Northern Ireland

You must self-isolate for 10 days if you:

  • test positive for Covid
  • are an adult who has not been double vaccinated, who lives with someone who tests positive OR a close contact. You will be asked to take a PCR test on days two and eight

You must take a PCR test and self-isolate while you await the results if:

  • you have developed Covid symptoms
  • you are a fully vaccinated adult identified as a close contact. If the test is negative, isolation can stop but you should take a daily lateral flow test every day until the 10th day after your last date of contact with the positive case

Under-18s don't have to self-isolate after contact with a positive case, even if they are not vaccinated. They are advised to take a PCR test.

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What does self-isolation mean?

Self-isolation means staying at home and not going out.

Adults shouldn't go into work and children shouldn't go to school.

You should order online groceries, or ask friends or family to deliver supplies.

No-one from outside your household should come inside, unless to deliver essential care.

If you have symptoms or test positive, you should:

  • Keep your distance from other members of your household
  • Leave windows open to improve ventilation
  • If possible, sleep and eat in a different room, and use a separate bathroom
  • If you share a bathroom, use it after everyone else and clean it thoroughly

If you do not follow the rules on self-isolation, you can be fined. In England, penalties start at £1,000 and rise to £10,000.

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