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From Monday 16 August 2021, employees who have been double vaccinated (or are aged 18 and under) will be able to continue to go into their workplaces even if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. Jo Moseley considers the issues employers need to consider.
From 16 August, do our staff still have to tell us if they've been identified as close contacts of anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19?
That will depend on your policy, and whether they test positive or develop symptoms themselves. If they test positive, (or are required to self-isolate because they've been in contact with someone who has) they will have a legal duty to self-isolate for at least 10 days unless they are exempt.
If they have a legal duty to self-isolate, they must inform you of this unless they are working in the place where they are self-isolating (such as their home). The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Self Isolation) (England) Amendment Regulations provide that, from 16 August anyone aged 18 or under, or who has been double vaccinated, won't have to self-isolate after being identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive, unless they also test positive.
Anyone who isn't exempt will have to continue to self-isolate.
In terms of vaccination status, in order to qualify, the individual must have had their second Covid-19 jab at least two weeks before they came into close contact with the positive case. So, for example, if your employee had their second vaccination on 10 August, they would still have to self-isolate until 24 August if they are identified as a close contact of someone with the virus during that period.
NHS Test and Trace will continue to notify people if they've been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive and will recommend that they take a PCR test to find out if they also have the virus. If they test negative, they don't have to take any further PCR tests unless they develop symptoms.
Note: close contacts don't have a legal duty to take a PCR test and, if they choose not to be tested, you won't know that they've been contacted (and could be asymptomatic) unless you ask them to notify you if they are identified as a contact of someone