Self-isolation Guidance

New Guidance
Anyone in England self-isolating with Covid-19 can now end their self-isolation period early as long as they test negative on day 5 and day 6 and they do not have a temperature. Both tests must be taken 24 hours apart. Individuals who are still testing positive on their LFD tests on day 5, must continue to self-isolate until they receive two consecutive negative test results taken on separate days 24 hours apart, or until they complete the full 10 days’ isolation, whichever is soonest. For more information see Gov.uk.

The self-isolation advice for contacts of people with coronavirus (Covid-19) has changed to reduce the risk of spread to others. See the table below to find out whether you are legally required to self-isolate.

SHOULD I SELF-ISOLATE IF… LEGALLY REQUIRED TO SELF-ISOLATE YES/NO? ACTION REQUIRED
I have symptoms of Covid-19? YES
  • You should self-isolate and take a PCR test even if you’ve been vaccinated and even if you are under 18 years old.
I’ve received a positive LFD test? YES
  • You should self-isolate even if you’ve been vaccinated and even if you are under 18 years old. You are no longer required to have a follow-up PCR test. This is a temporary measure while Covid-19 rates remain high across the UK.
I’ve received a positive PCR test? YES
  • You should self-isolate for 10 days from receipt of your test result even if you have been vaccinated and even if you are under 18 years old.
  • However, regardless of vaccination status, if you provide a negative lateral flow results on day 5 and day 6 (must be 24 hours apart) you can end your self-isolation period early.
  • Isolation should not be ended early if you have a high temperature.
  • If you are eligible to end isolation on day 6, you are strongly advised to limit contact with vulnerable people, not visit crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, and work from home
  • If either of your lateral flow test results on days 5 or 6 is positive, you should continue your self-isolation until you receive 2 consecutive negative tests (taken 24 hours apart), or your 10 days of isolation is completed, whichever is soonest.
My child is under 5 years old and they have tested positive for Covid-19? YES
  • They are required to self-isolate for the full 10 days unless the parent or guardian decides to carry out lateral flow testing.
  • Although lateral flow testing is not recommended on children under 5 years, at the discretion of the parent or guardian, if they provide a negative lateral flow test on day 5 and day 6 (these must be 24 hours apart) they can end self-isolation early.
  • Isolation should not be ended early if they have a high temperature.
  • If either of the lateral flow tests on days 5 or 6 is positive, they should continue their self-isolation until they have 2 consecutive negative tests (taken 24 hours apart), or their 10 days of isolation is completed, whichever is soonest.
My child is under 5 years old and they have been identified as a contact of someone with Covid-19? NO
  • Your child does not need to complete daily testing for contacts of Covid-19.
  • However, they should limit contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if affected by Covid-19.
I’m double vaccinated and I’ve been identified as a contact of someone who’s tested positive for Covid-19?
I’m under 18 and I’ve been identified as a contact of someone who’s tested positive for Covid-19?
NO
  • You do not need to self-isolate, BUT you are strongly advised to complete daily testing for contacts of Covid-19 using LFD tests every day for 7 days.
  • Even if your LFD results are negative, limit close contact with other people outside your household, especially in enclosed and crowded spaces, work from home if possible.
  • If an LFD test is positive, you must self-isolate. You are no longer required to have a follow-up PCR test. This is a temporary measure while Covid-19 rates remain high across the UK.
I’ve been identified as a contact of someone who’s tested positive for Covid-19, I’m over 18 and I’ve had either one or no jabs? YES
  • You need to self-isolate and take a PCR test as soon as possible.
  • You must continue to self-isolate even if your result is negative*.
I’m a Healthcare Worker and I’ve been identified as a contact of someone who’s tested positive for Covid-19? NO
  • Please se Gov.uk for self isolation guidance specific to health care workers.

* There is no change to the guidance for unvaccinated contacts of positive Covid-19 cases, they are still required to self-isolate for 10 full days after their date of exposure to the virus. More information can be found here.

For more information on when to self-isolate click here.

Reducing the Self-Isolation Period for Positive Cases FAQs

Why is reducing the self-isolation period for positive cases being introduced now?

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) research has indicated that reducing the self-isolation period in a safe manner with 2 negative LFD tests 24 hours apart on Day 5 and Day 6 limits the risks, and cases can be released from self-isolation.

Am I eligible to take LFD tests on Day 5 and Day 6?

Anyone in England who tests positive for Covid-19 will be advised that they can leave self-isolation if they:

  • Take LFD tests on consecutive days, at least 24 hours apart, with the first test no earlier than the fifth full day of their self-isolation period (not counting the ‘onset day’, which is counted as Day 0)
  • The results obtained from the LFD tests on both days must be negative and the case must not have a high temperature.
  • LFD testing is not recommended on children under 5 years, however, at parent or guardian discretion they may be able to leave self-isolation early if they do not have a high temperature and if they take an LFD test on or after Day 5 and a second LFD 24 hours later, and both are negative.

There is no change to the guidance for unvaccinated contacts of positive Covid-19 cases, they are still required to self-isolate for 10 full days after their date of exposure to the virus. However, if a person is unvaccinated and is a case (tests positive themselves), then they can end self-isolation early if they receive two negative lateral flow tests on day 5 and day 6 (24 hrs apart) and follow all the additional precautions advised. More information can be found here.

I have completed 6 days isolation, my day 5 and day 6 LFD tests are negative. Will I be fined if I leave isolation now?

If both your LFD tests are taken from Day 5, 24 hours apart and the results are negative, you will not be fined if you leave self-isolation.

Does this change apply to my household contacts?

There is no change to the guidance for unvaccinated contacts of positive Covid-19 cases, they are still legally required to self-isolate for 10 full days after their date of exposure to the virus.  The 10 day isolation period starts from the day after the case had symptoms, or if no symptoms the day after the case’s positive test.

Fully vaccinated contacts do not need to isolate and are advised to take daily LFD tests for 7 days.

 

My NHS COVID App advice is different to the advice I received from NHS Test and Trace in an e-mail/SMS message. What do I do?

The guidance in the SMS Messages and e-mails will be correct from Thursday 23rd December 2021.  Information in the NHS Covid-19 App will be updated at a later date.  In the meantime, please follow the guidance you have been given on the call.

I am a positive case and on Day 6 of isolation. Can I leave isolation?
  • Cases can leave self-isolation if they take LFD tests at least 24 hours apart on consecutive days from Day 5 of their self-isolation period and if both results are negative.
  • The case can decide when they take the test on Day 5 and Day 6, it could be early in the morning, or it could be later in the day.
  • If you have a high temperature, or have a positive lateral flow test, you should continue to self-isolate.
I have completed 6 days’ isolation and obtained 2 negative LFD tests on Day 5 and Day 6. What do I need to do around other people?

If both your LFD test results are negative, it is likely that you were not infectious at the time the tests were taken and you can end your isolation. To further reduce the chance of passing Covid-19 on to others, you are strongly advised to:

  • limit close contact with other people outside your household, especially in crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces
  • work from home if you can
  • wear a face covering in crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces and where you are in close contact with other people
  • limit contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with Covid-19
  • follow the guidance on how to stay safe and help prevent the spread

If you end your self-isolation following 2 negative LFD test results, 24 hours apart, you should follow this advice until 10 full days from when your self-isolation period started.

My day 5 or day 6 LFD test is positive, what do I do?

If the day 6 test is positive, you must continue to isolate.

You can take further tests on subsequent days – Day 7, 8 or 9.  If two LFD tests taken 24 hours apart on consecutive days are negative, you can leave self-isolation.

Self-isolation ends after Day 10, you do not need a negative LFD test on Day 10 to leave isolation on Day 11.

I have completed 6 days of isolation, can I arrange a second PCR test?

A further PCR test is not recommended within 90 days after a positive PCR test result unless you have new symptoms.

You can take an LFD test on Day 5 and a further test 24 hours later; if both these tests are negative you can finish your isolation .

I had no symptoms when I tested positive. I have since developed symptoms and my day 5 LFD test is negative. What do I do?

If you develop symptoms during isolation, the period of your isolation resets.  Day 0 is the date your symptoms start, and you are required to isolate for the next 10 days.  You can undertake LFD tests on consecutive days from Day 5 of your new isolation period. If both these tests are negative, you can leave isolation.

I have completed 6 days’ isolation, I have had 2 negative LFD tests on day 5 and day 6. Can I return to work?

You can return to work following your two negative test results, as long as they were taken 24 hours apart and your employer is in agreement.   To further reduce the chance of passing Covid-19 on to others, you are strongly advised to:

  • limit close contact with other people outside your household, especially in crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces
  • work from home if you can
  • wear a face covering in crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces and where you are in close contact with other people
  • limit contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with Covid-19
  • guidance on how to stay safe and help prevent the spread

If you end your self-isolation following 2 negative LFD test results, 24 hours apart, you should follow this advice until 10 full days from when your self-isolation period started.

What do I do if I work in high-risk setting (such as a prison, hospital, care home)?

You should if you have not done so already notify your employer or workplace that you have tested positive to Covid-19.   Your manager or employer will advise on specific guidance for your workplace on the testing and infection control measures you need to take. ​

I am isolating as positive case, I do not have any LFD test kits. What do I do?

If you do not have any LFDs at home, you can get further supplies from the gov.uk home order channel Order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

You must not leave home to collect LFD kits from a pharmacy or community collect site. If you are unable to obtain LFD test kits, to complete the LFD tests 24 hours apart from Day 5, you must complete the full self-isolation period of 10 days.

I have completed 6 days’ isolation and have 2 negative LFD tests on day 5 and 6. Can I travel to visit friends or family outside of England?

If you are visiting friends and family in the devolved administrations (Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland) you will need to follow the guidance of the country you are visiting.

If you are planning to visit friends and family who live abroad, you are advised to follow the specific guidance for international arrivals for the country you are travelling to.  Further information is available: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-abroad-from-england-during-coronavirus-covid-19

For more information see the Gov.uk website.