politics

All the Covid rules that could change in the coming weeks as Omicron rages


From slashing isolation periods to changing what being ‘fully jabbed’ means, the UK government could be set to change a number of Covid rules in coming weeks

Early morning commuters packed into a carriage of a Jubilee Line train on the London Underground
Early morning commuters packed into a carriage of a Jubilee Line train on the London Underground

A number of Covid rules that are still active in England could change over the coming weeks.

Case numbers have continued to decline after a festive peak, but death rates seem set on rising as the data paints a mixed picture during the Omicron wave.

With big companies increasingly cutting sick pay for the unvaccinated and hospital trusts up and down the country declaring critical incidents, a number of rules Brits have grown accustomed to could begin to change.

This could include isolation periods, passes to large events and Covid testing as well.

It comes as Downing Street was yet again exposed for partying during Covid restrictions – with one event just hours before the Queen sat alone at her husband’s funeral .







David McGeorge from Stockton receives his Covid-19 booster jab as walk in Covid-19 vaccinations take place at the Wellington Square Clinic in Stockton on Tees, in Teeside
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The ensuing fallout and public anger towards Boris Johnson could harm future compliance with any restrictions needed to protect England against Covid.

Here, the Mirror has looked into all the Covid rules that could be changing over coming weeks.

Seven days of tests for close contacts

Currently, vaccinated people who come into contact with a Covid case in England should take daily lateral flow tests for seven days instead of isolation.

The government has now indicated this requirement could be reduced after announcing the isolation period has been cut to five full days (see bottom of this article).

A government statement said: “In line with today’s announcement, the government will also consider the guidance for close contacts of people with COVID-19, including around the advice for fully vaccinated contacts to take daily LFDs for 7 days.”

It did not give a date when any changes could come into force.

Covid passes being axed

Sajid Javid hinted on Thursday that Covid passports for nightclubs and large venues – which mean showing you’ve had a vaccine or recent negative test – could soon be ditched in England.

Tory MP Alicia Kearns asked him to “drop domestic certification at the earliest possible opportunity.”

The Health Secretary replied: “On the issue that she also raised around the domestic certification, I have to say I do share my honourable friend’s instinctive discomfort.







A woman takes a PCR test in Penzance, Cornwall
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“I want to assure her, I will assure the House, that as far as I’m concerned, we wont be keeping domestic certification in place for a moment longer than absolutely necessary.”

The Plan B rules in England, which include Covid passes, are currently due to expire on January 26. This, arguably, is the “earliest possible opportunity”.

But Government sources said Mr Javid’s words should not be interpreted as meaning Covid passes will end on that date.







Work continues on the construction of the Nightingale Surge Hub at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds
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Other Plan B rules being ditched or extended

England’s Plan B rules expire on January 26 – including Covid passes, masks on public transport and in shops, and work-from-home guidance.

Reports suggest Boris Johnson and ministers are increasingly confident that they can end the rules in time, and not extend them further.

That would save another fractious vote by Tory MPs, 100 of whom rebelled against Plan B measures in December.

However, No10 has stressed it’s still too early to say what will happen either way.







Members of the public look at a wall of remembrance for Covid-19 victims near St Thomas’ Hospital
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Definition of ‘fully-jabbed’ to include a booster

The government has previously said it will update the definition of fully-jabbed to include a booster in England.

This is important because it will change the requirements for people having to show a Covid pass to get into a nightclub – if these are not scrapped (see above), of course.

However, the government has not said when this will happen in England – despite Scotland announcing a change to its policy from this coming Monday.

Scotland’s vaccine certification will have to include a booster from January 17 for anyone whose second dose was at least four months ago.

It’s thought England is still holding out on announcing a date, because so many people had Covid over Christmas. The infections meant they were unable to get a vaccine for 28 days afterwards.







People arrange boxes at a free Covid-19 rapid lateral flow test kit handout point on Hoe Street in Walthamstow, north London
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Confirmed: Isolation cut to five full days

Currently people who test positive for Covid can be freed midway through their seventh full day of isolation, if they test negative on days six and seven.

But Mr Javid announced that period will be cut by between 24 and 48 hours, after huge pressure from Tory MPs and a staffing crisis in the NHS.

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







A member of the clinical staff prepares vaccinations as walk in Covid-19 vaccinations take place at the Wellington Square Clinic in Stockton on Tees, Teesside
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They will then be able to leave isolation at the start of Day 6 – if they have tested negative for Covid on both Day 5 and Day 6.

Your first “full day” of isolation starts at 12.01am, the calendar day after you test positive or show symptoms. So if you test positive at 11am, ‘Day 1’ starts 13 hours later.

This suggests the new total isolation time will, in reality, be somewhere between five and six days depending on what time the test came back or symptoms started.

However, it’s thought people will be able to take this Day 6 test at one minute past midnight if they wish and go out straight away.

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