Freedom… with a catch: Self-isolation and school bubbles WILL be axed next Monday – but if you do get pinged you’ll be asked to take a Covid test and wear a mask
- Double-jabbed adults and all children to be free from isolation rules, as more than 33 million people in England will not be forced to quarantine from Monday
- Instead of 10-day isolation, those contacted will be advised to take a PCR test
- Crippling ‘pingdemic’ staff shortages had left supermarket shelves empty and forced businesses, including pubs and restaurants, to close their doors
- Anyone testing positive is legally required to isolate regardless of vaccine status
Double-jabbed adults and all children will be set free from isolation rules on Monday as ministers finally end the pingdemic.
More than 33million people in England who have received both coronavirus vaccine doses will no longer have to quarantine if someone they have been in contact with tests positive.
The restrictions will also be lifted for everyone aged under 18 as school bubbles are scrapped.
But ministers last night said the double-jabbed should remain cautious if they get pinged and think about wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces and avoiding others, particularly the elderly and those with health conditions.
Instead of having to isolate for up to ten days, those contacted by NHS Test and Trace or through the Covid-19 app will be advised to get a PCR test as soon as possible. They will not have to isolate while waiting for the result.
More than 33million people in England who have received both coronavirus vaccine doses will no longer have to quarantine if someone they have been in contact with tests positive
The much-anticipated rule change comes after weeks of chaos that have seen millions of workers forced to stay at home and children kept away from school even if they are not infected.
Crippling staff shortages have led to empty supermarket shelves and forced businesses including restaurants and pubs to shut their doors.
Figures a fortnight ago showed that a record 1.2million were told to quarantine in just one week including nearly 700,000 who were pinged by the Covid-19 app.
The new isolation rules for England come after similar changes were made in Wales last Saturday and in Scotland on Monday.
Double-jabbed adults will have to wait until 14 days after their second dose before they are exempted from the isolation rules for close contacts.
Anyone who tests positive following a PCR test will still be legally required to isolate irrespective of their vaccination status or age.
Figures a fortnight ago showed that a record 1.2million were told to quarantine in just one week including nearly 700,000 who were pinged by the Covid-19 app. [File image]
Quarantine requirements for travellers returning from abroad will remain the same.
The removal of the isolation requirements for under-18s comes ahead of millions of pupils and students returning to school and college for the autumn term.
The bubbles system that has seen whole classes or year groups sent home will be axed.
Only the sick should be tested for coronavirus and all but the most vulnerable should be freed from blanket ‘control measures’, a Government expert has said.
Several leading scientists are setting out how Britain can shift towards ‘living with Covid’, calling for an end to disruptive measures such as mass testing and self-isolation.
Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), and others yesterday backed calls to scrap routine testing of asymptomatic people.
He added that blanket lockdowns can no longer be justified as a way to control Covid and instead restrictions should only apply to the ‘most vulnerable’.
Professor Hayward, a University College London epidemiologist, said: ‘As we move into a sort of endemic rather than a pandemic situation then the potential harm that the virus can cause at the population level is much less.
‘So you can’t really justify such broad population-wide control measures and we tend to target the control measures more to those who are most vulnerable.’
Meanwhile, as another 29,612 cases and 104 deaths were reported yesterday, Professor Hayward warned that herd immunity was a ‘mythical’ goal.
He said: ‘I think it is a pretty distant prospect and we need to get used to the concept that this will become … a disease that is with us all the time and probably transmits seasonally, like influenza.’
Secondary school and college students will instead be required to take two on-site tests at the start of the new term, followed by twice weekly lateral flow tests at home.
Ministers have promised to review the testing requirements by the end of next month.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said last night: ‘Asking the close contacts of people with Covid-19 to self-isolate has played a critical role in helping us get this virus under control, and millions of people across the UK have made enormous sacrifices by doing this.
‘Every single one of these sacrifices has helped us protect the NHS and save lives.’
He added: ‘Getting two doses of a vaccine has tipped the odds in our favour and allowed us to safely reclaim our lost freedoms, and from Monday we can take another huge step back towards our normal lives by removing self-isolation requirements for double-jabbed people who are contacts of people with Covid-19.
‘Double-jabbed people who test positive will still need to self-isolate.’
Mr Javid continued: ‘Vaccines are what will bring this pandemic to an end – the wall of defence provided by the rollout is allowing us to get even closer to normal life.
‘If you haven’t already, please make sure you come forward for your jab at the earliest opportunity.’
Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: ‘Thanks to the huge success of the vaccine programme, we are able to ease self-isolation requirements for double-jabbed people and under-18s.
‘It is important that close contacts continue to come forward for a PCR test, in order to detect the virus and variants of concern.
‘Although two doses of vaccine will greatly reduce your own risk of becoming unwell with Covid-19, it is still possible to contract the virus and pass it to others.’
Dr Harries added: ‘So if you develop symptoms at any time – vaccinated or not – you should get a test and be very careful in your contact with others until you have received a negative test result.
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