People infected with Covid in England can now come out of self-isolation after seven rather than 10 days according to new government rules.
Employers have welcomed the announcement, which means that from today (22 December) employees can end quarantine after seven days if they can provide negative lateral flow results on day six and day seven.
The two tests should be taken 24 hours apart, and the first test must not be taken before the sixth day.
The latest spike in coronavirus cases due to the Omicron variant has caused staff shortages in a number of sectors, including rail operators and health services. Health secretary Sajid Javid said the new requirements would “minimise disruption”.
The advice applies to anyone who isolates after testing positive for Covid-19 – regardless of vaccination status.
However, those who have not been double vaccinated but have been in close contact with a positive case must still isolate for 10 days.
The UK Health Security Agency, which sets the guidance, warned that anyone showing symptoms should not end isolation early.
Those ending isolation early are also advised to limit contact with vulnerable people, avoid crowded places and work from home if they can.
Javid said: “We are reducing the self-isolation period from 10 days to seven if you test negative on a lateral flow test for two days running.
“It’s vital people keep playing their part by testing regularly and isolating if they test positive. And I urge you to get boosted now to protect yourself and those around you.”
The announcement comes as prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed there would be no additional coronavirus restrictions for Christmas, but that he “can’t rule out” further measures after the 25 December.
UKHSA chief executive Jennie Harries said the new rules would “help break chains of transmission” while minimising “the impact on lives and livelihoods”.