The self isolation period for people in England testing positive for Covid has been cut from ten to seven days in a move that should help ease pressure on businesses facing staff shortages while still limiting the spread of the virus.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced that from today, vaccinated and unvaccinated people who test positive for Covid can stop quarantining after seven days as long as they test negative on two lateral flow tests taken 24 hours apart on day six and day seven.
However, those who are not fully vaccinated will still have to isolate for the full 10 days if they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive.
It follows analysis by the UKHSA which suggests a seven-day isolation period alongside two negative lateral flow test results has nearly the same protective effect as a 10-day isolation period without lateral flow testing.
The UKHSA chief executive, Dr Jenny Harries, said: “Covid-19 is spreading quickly among the population and the pace at which Omicron is transmitting may pose a risk to running our critical public services during winter.
“This new guidance will help break chains of transmission and minimise the impact on lives and livelihoods. It is crucial that people carry out their lateral flow tests as the new guidance states and continue to follow public health advice.”
Those who end their isolation on day seven are strongly advised to minimise contact with anyone vulnerable, not visit crowded or poorly ventilated spaces and work from home.