The rules around how long people need to isolate for following a positive Covid-19 test and who is eligible for a third vaccine have changed.
People self-isolating with Covid-19 who are fully vaccinated 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.
Individuals who are still positive on their rapid lateral flow tests must stay in isolation until they have had 2 consecutive negative tests taken on separate days.
The Government had been under pressure to reduce the isolation period, which was previously seven days, to address staff shortages across the country by allowing people to return to work earlier.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi had publicly backed plans for reducing the self-isolation period.
Speaking to Sky News on Sunday last week, Mr Zahawi said: “It would certainly help mitigate some of the pressures on schools, on critical workforce and others.
“But I would absolutely be driven by advice from the experts, the scientists, on whether we should move to five days from seven days.”
This change is currently only taking effect in England, leaving it up to the devolved administrations to decide whether they follow suit.
The day your symptoms start, or the day you test positive if you do not have symptoms, counts as day zero.
The Government hope this move will “restore extra freedoms” to the British public in an educated gamble, as data shows that up to 30% of people are still infectious by day six, though the figure falls to seven per cent when two consecutive negative tests are recorded.
However, the percentage of those released while infectious falls to around 7%, if people have two consecutive negative tests and then leave isolation from day six.
There has also been a shake-up for teenagers as 16-17-year-olds, from today, can attend a walk-in vaccination session and take up their third jab.
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 two 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.”
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.