The length of time people are required to self-isolate due to Covid-19 will be reduced once again from next Monday (January 17).
From that date people with COVID-19 in England can end their self-isolation after five full days, as long as they test negative on day 5 and day 6 and do not have a temperature.
People who are still positive on their lateral flow tests must stay in isolation until they have had two consecutive negative tests taken on separate days
The aim is to support essential public services and keep supply chains running over the winter
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 a person is positive on day 5, then a negative test is required on day 6 and day 7 to release from isolation.
The two negative lateral flow tests must betaken on consecutive days and reported before people return to their job or education, if leaving self-isolation earlier than the full 10 day period.
Those who leave self-isolation on or after day 6 are 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, and you may only leave self-isolation early if you have taken two LFDs and do not have a temperature in line with guidance.
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 five 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.”
Existing public health measures remain in place, including:
Self-isolation may continue in certain circumstances, such as for those who work with vulnerable people. A full list will be published in guidance in due course.
Under the current testing rules, around 6% of people are still infectious when they are released from isolation on day 7 following two consecutive negative LFDs.
Once the guidance is changed to end isolation on day 6 with two consecutive negative lateral flow results, modelling from the UK Health Security Agency shows this figure will rise to around 7%.
The self-isolation period was previously reduced from ending on day 10 to day 7, with a negative LFD result taken 24 hours apart on day 6 and 7 in December.
The rules for contacts have not changed. Fully vaccinated people who are identified as contacts of someone with COVID-19 should take daily LFDs 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.