What are the new Covid isolation rules?

Woman in isolation looking out the window
The new rules are confusing people (Picture: Getty)

England’s isolation period has been slashed from seven days to just five.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s announcement of the new rules comes after the Government was urged by businesses to cut the isolation period in order to aid the staff shortage crisis.

But the specifics of the rules have left many confused, as the proclaimed ‘five-day isolation period’ is longer than you’d think.

Here, Metro.co.uk clearly details the new isolation rules.

What are the new isolation rules?

Under the new rules, you will have to isolate for at least five full days, starting at 12.01am the day after your positive test or the start of symptoms.

So if you test positive at 9am, your first full day – known as ‘Day One’ – starts 15 hours later.

graphic explaining the new covid isolation rules
The day you test positive is known as Day Zero (Picture: PA)

You must still isolate the second you develop symptoms or test positive – this is known as ‘Day Zero’, with the first of the five full days in isolation starting the next day.

You will then be able to leave isolation at the start of the sixth full day – Day Six – if you have tested negative for Covid-19 on both Day Five and Day Six.

If you are still positive on Day Five, then two negative tests are instead required on Day Six and Day Seven to be released from isolation.

If you continue to test positive then you must isolate for a full 10 days – you will then be allowed to leave isolation after this period, even if you test positive.

You should use lateral flow tests if you are asymptomatic – PCR tests should only be used if you have symptoms.

When announcing the new rules on January 13, Mr Javid said: ‘UKHSA data shows that around two-thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by the end of day five and we want to use the testing capacity that we’ve built up to help these people leave isolation safely.

‘After reviewing all of the evidence, we’ve made the decision to reduce the minimum self-isolation period to five full days in England.

‘From Monday, people can test twice before they go – leaving isolation at the start of day six.

‘These two tests are critical to these balanced and proportionate plans, and I’d urge everyone to take advantage of the capacity we have built up in tests so we can restore the freedoms to this country while we’re keeping everyone safe.’

It is worth noting that the new isolation rules only apply to England – Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have their own Covid-19 safety measures in place.

MORE : What Covid test do I now need to travel to France?

MORE : Covid passes could be scrapped by end of the month as Omicron wave ‘eases’

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