It has been reported that the Government is considering ending legal requirements for people who test positive for covid to self-isolate, as early as March. We believe these requirements must be kept in place, to protect the public.
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If legal requirements to self-isolate end many people are unlikely to isolate for seven days voluntarily, and work may not accept testing positive for covid as a reason for absence anymore. People may also be more likely to meet others whilst infectious. Covid spreads easily and many with cancer, diabetes, immune disorders and the elderly will still be at risk if they are infected. Long covid is already devastating and if adequate precautions are not taken could affect far more people.
Wednesday 9th March 2022
People are no longer legally required to self-isolate if they test positive. Guidance provided to those who test positive or have Covid-19 symptoms is to stay at home and avoid contact with others.
The Self-Isolation Regulations were a temporary measure to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and since their introduction they have been kept under continuous review. Throughout the pandemic, Government advice and information has been informed by the best scientific evidence available from health agencies, academics, and experts.
The Prime Minister’s announcement on 21 February set out how we will live safely with COVID-19 and the Government’s plan for removing the remaining legal restrictions while protecting people most vulnerable to COVID-19 and maintaining resilience.
The Government’s objective in the next phase of the COVID-19 response is to enable COVID-19 to be managed in a similar way to other respiratory illnesses, while minimising mortality and retaining the ability to respond if a new and more dangerous variant emerges.
In line with the Public Sector Equality Duty, the Government has considered the impact of these decisions on protected groups, alongside public health and wider economic considerations.
This means that in England, as of 24 February 2022, people who test positive for COVID-19 are no longer legally required to self-isolate. The public health advice for anyone who tests positive or has COVID-19 symptoms, and their household contacts, is to stay at home, limit contact with others and observe safe behaviours as they would if they contracted any other infectious disease.
We understand that this may not always be possible and encourage people to make decisions based on their personal circumstances. Where avoiding others is not possible, there is further guidance for individuals to practise safe behaviours to minimise the risk of further transmission.
If people are unable to work from home, they should speak to their employer about available options, they may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
The Government’s objective in this next phase of the COVID-19 response is to enable COVID-19 to be managed in a similar way to other respiratory illnesses, while minimising mortality and retaining the ability to respond if a new and more dangerous variant emerges.
Individuals can still reduce the risk of catching and passing on COVID-19 by:
• Getting vaccinated
• Letting fresh air in if meeting indoors, or meeting outside
• Wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, especially where you come into contact with people you do not usually meet, when rates of transmission are high
• Trying to stay at home if you are unwell
• Taking a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms (until 31 March), and staying at home and avoiding contact with other people if you test positive
• Washing your hands regularly
The Government is able to take this step now because of the success of the vaccination programme, and the suite of pharmaceutical tools the NHS can deploy to treat people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 and the most severely ill.
Department for Health and Social Care