From Monday August 16, self-isolation rules are changing for people who’ve had two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
People who are double jabbed or under the age of 18 will no longer be required to self-isolate if they’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.
This change, which was announced last month, is part of the government’s step four of the Covid-19 roadmap. Three-quarters (75%) of people have now received both doses of the vaccine, meaning the majority of adults will no longer need to self-isolate.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said: “Getting two doses of a vaccine has tipped the odds in our favour and allowed us to safely reclaim our lost freedoms, and from Monday we can take another huge step back towards our normal lives by removing self-isolation requirements for double jabbed people who are contacts of people with Covid-19. Double jabbed people who test positive will still need to self-isolate.”
From Monday, the double jabbed and people under 18 will be advised to take a PCR test if they’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.
As children are set to go back to school in September, these new self-isolation rules will allow pupils to remain in the classroom. Step four of the Covid roadmap will also end classroom “bubbles” for all people under the age of 18. Schools will no longer stagger start times and pupils will not need to self-isolate if someone in their class tests positive, only if they test positive themselves.
The change will also allow health and social care workers to avoid self-isolation, as long as they’re double vaccinated and test negative after taking a PCR test. Here’s a reminder of the changes:
Who doesn’t need to self isolate?
From August 16, those who are double jabbed or under the age of 18 do not need to self-isolate. Those turning 18 will be treated in the same way as children until the age of 18 years and six months. This gives them time to get vaccinated.
The new guidance will apply to people who had their final dose of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before coming into contact with a positive case.
Will PCR tests be compulsory?
Under 18s and people who are double jabbed will be advised to take a PCR test if they’ve come into contact with Covid, but this will not be compulsory. They will not have to self-isolate while they wait for the result.
New guidance will advise people in this group to wear a mask and reduce their contact with others if they believe they may have come into contact with Covid, but again, this will not be mandated.
Who will still need to self-isolate?
People who are unvaccinated, those who’ve had a single dose of the vaccine and those who test positive for Covid-19 will still need to self-isolate.
The government said people will continue to be encouraged to do rapid lateral flow testing twice a week in an effort to find asymptomatic cases of the virus. If you think you have Covid symptoms, you should take a PCR test, which will allow for new variants to be detected.
Health and social care staff will have to provide a negative PCR test to return to work if they are a contact of a positive case, and also take daily lateral flow tests for 10 days as a precaution, while those working with clinically extremely vulnerable patients will need to undergo a risk assessment before going back to work.
The NHS Covid-19 app will be updated with changes that support the new self-isolation rules. Anyone who is called by NHS Test and Trace will be asked their age and vaccination status.
Why are the rules changing?
By now you’ve probably heard of the “pingdemic,” which refers to large numbers of people being told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, disrupting businesses and education.
A new ‘pingdemic’ survey conducted by the ZOE Covid Study app found there are large numbers of people being asked to isolate who have not been infected, but that the system is helping to detect positive cases.
The study found that people who were “pinged” by the NHS Covid-19 app were around four times more likely to have Covid-19 than someone who was not. People who were pinged and had Covid-19 symptoms were 11.7 times more likely to test positive for Covid than those who felt normal.
The changing self-isolation rules are part of an effort to tackle the “pingdemic”. The ZOE researchers also called for improvements in symptom tracking, saying a wider range of potential Covid symptoms should be taken into account.