From today (Monday), people self-isolating with COVID-19 can end their isolation period after five full days if they test negative on both day five and day six and do not have a temperature.
The law states that you must self-isolate for 10 days, however this change enables people who are not infectious, proven via two negative tests over two days, which can start from day 5, to leave isolation on day 6.
Individuals who are still positive on their lateral flow tests must stay in isolation until they have had two consecutive negative tests taken on separate days.
The first test must be taken no earlier than day five of the self-isolation period, and the second must be taken the following day.
The consecutive negative tests must be reported on gov.uk before individuals return to their job or education if leaving self-isolation earlier than the full 10 day period.
The government said it is crucial people isolating with COVID-19 wait until they have received two negative lateral flow tests on two consecutive days to reduce the chance of still being infectious.
The move is a bid to support essential public services and keep supply chains running over the winter.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Following a robust review of the evidence, we have reduced the minimum self-isolation period to five full days in England.
“This is a balanced and proportionate approach to restore extra freedoms and reduce the pressure on essential public services over the winter.
“It is crucial people only stop self-isolating after two negative tests to ensure you are not infectious.
“Vaccinations remain our best defence against COVID-19, offering significant protection against infection and hospitalisation – and I urge everybody eligible to take up the offer and Get Boosted Now.”
The self-isolation period was previously reduced from ending on day 10 to day 7, with a negative LFD result taken 24 hours apart on day 6 and 7 on 22 December 2021.
Under the 7-day testing approach, around 6% of people will be infectious when they are released from isolation on day 7 following two consecutive negative LFDs.
The new guidance to end self-isolation on day 6 with two consecutive negative lateral flow results, modelling from the UK Health Security Agency shows this figure will rise to around 7%.
If you leave isolation on day 6, after 5 full days of isolation, between 20% and 30% of people are still infectious. The percentage of those released whilst infectious is reduced to around 7% if people have two consecutive negative tests and then leave isolation from day 6.