Government guidance on self-isolation rules has changed and was put into place from January 17. The rules also affect children and whether they can go to school

Some have criticised the change to isolation rules
Some have criticised the change to isolation rules

The government is planning ahead as the UK looks to learn to live with the coronavirus.

Plan B restrictions aimed at tackling Covid-19 are due to expire this month on January 26, subject to a review, while the self-isolation period has now been cut to five days.

An announcement on Plan B is expected at some point this week, while new self-isolation rules came into place on January 17.

The rule tweaks are significant for parents, teachers and children, as the change aims to tackle staff shortages of people in key roles, such as teachers and those working in the NHS.

The proposal has drawn criticism from those fearing it may be too soon for people to return to work after being infected.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has previously described the plans as “counterproductive”.

How long do children need to self-isolate for?

The cut in the self-isolation period also applies to children


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The rule changes mean that all people, including children, must isolate for five full days before returning to school.

Previously, people in England who were fully vaccinated could end their isolation period after seven days, providing they tested negative via a lateral flow test (LFT) on days six and seven.

The government explained the guidance: “All people – including pupils parents and teachers – have to isolate for a minimum of five full days after the day of a positive test before then going back to school if they have tested negative twice.”

The day a person tests positive is considered ‘day zero’. The first full day, ‘day one’, is the day after their first positive test.

Any child hoping to return to school on the sixth day must test negative on the fifth full day and the day after.

If a child is still testing positive on these days, they must continue to self-isolate until they test negative for two days in a row.

What if my child is not fully vaccinated?

Children are not required to self-isolate if they are in the same household as someone positive with the virus


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In an overhaul of the rules, the government now says people living in England may leave self-isolation after five full days, whether they are vaccinated or not.

Children are not legally required to self-isolate if they are in the same household as someone who is positive.

If a person in the same household tests positive, a child can continue going to school providing they take a daily test.

The government guidance says: “If you are fully vaccinated or aged under 18 years, and you live in the same household as someone with Covid-19, you are not legally required to self-isolate.”

Those ages over five are “strongly advised” to take an LFT every day for seven days. This should be taken before a person leaves their home that day.

Full guidance from the government can be viewed here.

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