Why some people can leave earlier than others

THE CURRENT self-isolation rules could see your friend get out of their house several days before you can.

While some Covid-infection people can leave on “day five” of their isolation, others may be cooped up until day ten.

How self-isolation works: Everyone must isolate for ten full days, unless they are vaccinated, in which case they can leave early with two negative lateral flow tests

England’s self-isolation guidance has become much more flexible so that people can get back to work as soon as possible.

There used to be a standard ten day rule for everybody.

But this has eased up thanks to vaccines and lateral flow tests – tools that have helped reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

By March 24, self-isolation may be scrapped entirely, the Prime Minister has said.

Here we explain the current self-isolation rules in England.

If you are unvaccinated

The standard self-isolation is ten full days.

The first full day of isolation is NOT the day you test positive or noticed symptoms.

That day is now known as “day zero”, with the next day counting as “day one”.

For example, if you first got symptoms of the virus on a Monday, your self-isolation would start the Tuesday, even if you did not get a positive test result until later in the week.

However, you should always self-isolate immediately if you recognise that you are having symptoms of the virus.

If you are unvaccinated, there is no option to leave quarantine early – you must always isolate for ten full days.

If you are vaccinated 

If you are vaccinated, the standard ten full days self-isolation still applies.

However, in a rule change that came into force this month, you may leave earlier based on the results of lateral flow tests.

You need two negative lateral flow test results on two consecutive days in order to come out of isolation. 

It is now possible to leave isolation as early as day six if you had a negative lateral flow test result on day five and six.

If you do not test negative on day five, then a negative test is required on day six and day seven to leave isolation.

And so on, until the end of day 10.

On day 10, regardless of whether you are testing positive or negative on rapid tests, you can come out of self-isolation. 

Sometimes a person may still test positive after day 10.

The Government does not give clear cut rules for if you are still testing positive following the 10-day isolation period.

But it says: “You can return to your normal routine and stop self-isolating after 10 full days if your symptoms have gone, or if the only symptoms you have are a cough or anosmia [loss of smell], which can last for several weeks.”

“If you still have a high temperature after 10 days or are otherwise unwell, stay at home and seek medical advice.”

It’s up to you if you decide to be a little more cautious if you come out of your 10-day isolation and lateral flow test results are positive. 

What about the rest of the UK?

In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, unvaccinated people must self-isolate for ten days.

But vaccinated people can end their isolation if they have a negative test result on days six and seven. 

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