4:02 PM 13th January 2022
Self-Isolation For COVID-19 Can End After Five Full Days Following Two Negative LFD
Image: Tho-Ge / Pixabay
From Monday, 17 January, 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.
The decision has been made after careful consideration of modelling from the UK Health Security Agency and to support essential public services and workforces over the winter.
It is crucial that people isolating with COVID-19 wait until they have received two negative lateral flow tests on two consecutive days to reduce the chance of still being infectious.
Responding to news of a cut to a 5-day isolation period, Hannah Essex, Co-Executive Director of the BCC, said:
“Businesses are continuing to tell us they are struggling with high levels of absence due to Covid and will welcome the news it is judged safe to further reduce the isolation period.
“But too many say that staff are also finding it difficult to get the Lateral Flow Tests they need to prove they can return to work.
“This new change will only help if urgent action is taken to ramp up the supply of tests, so employees are not isolating unnecessarily.
“Many firms are still worried that staff absences will critically impact their supply chains and put pressure on cash flow at a time when economic conditions are still very difficult.
“Supply of tests is also crucial to building consumer confidence as many want to be assured that they are Covid-free before they go out and meet friends in hospitality and leisure premises.
“With the next review of Plan B restrictions due in less than two weeks, businesses will want to know what the Government’s longer-term contingency plans are should a new variant create a fresh wave of serious infections including how they would support businesses impacted by any potential restrictions.”
Matthew Fell, CBI Chief Policy Director, said:
“Firms are under the cosh dealing with mounting staff absences from self-isolation, so this move should have an almost immediate benefit.
“Businesses have been urging a reduction in the self-isolation period, providing health experts confirm it is safe, as a pragmatic change that will help keep the economy open as we adapt to live with the virus.”
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 an individual is positive on day 5, then a negative test is required on day 6 and day 7 to release from isolation.
It is essential that two negative lateral flow tests are taken on consecutive days and reported before individuals return to their job or education, if leaving self-isolation earlier than the full 10 day period.
For instance, if an individual is positive on day 5, then a negative test is required on both day 6 and day 7 to release from self-isolation, or positive on day 6, then a negative test is required on days 7 and 8, and so on until the end of day 10.
Those who leave self-isolation on or after day 6 are strongly 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:
staying at home if you feel unwell
getting a test if you experience any COVID-19 symptoms
wearing a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces
working from home if possible
maintaining social distancing and regular hand washing
taking up the offer of the free COVID-19 vaccine
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.
Vaccinations remain our best defence against COVID-19, offering substantial protection against infection and hospitalisation – and the government continues to urge the public to get boosted as soon as you’re eligible.
In line with today’s announcement, the government will also consider the guidance for close contacts of people with COVID-19, including around the advice for fully vaccinated contacts to take daily LFDs for 7 days.