Do I still have to self isolate? New Covid rules on isolation if you test positive in England - latest changes

Boris Johnson said it is time to move away from legal restrictions and encourage people with Covid symptoms to exercise personal responsibility

Boris Johnson presented his strategy for tackling Covid to MPs on Monday (21 February), telling the Commons it is time to “move from government restrictions to personal responsibility”.

The requirement to self-isolate after a positive Covid test will end in England on 24 February (Photo: Getty Images)

He said “the sun is shining but we’re keeping our umbrella” in the fight against coronavirus, but warned the pandemic is “not over” yet.

If you live in England, these are all the latest changes to self-isolation rules you need to know.

Do I still have to self-isolate?

No. From Thursday (24 February), it is no longer be a legal requirement to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid in England.

Anyone who gets a positive test result is still being advised to stay at home for at least five days until April, but this will no longer be enforced by law.

This advice applies to both adults and children, as well as those who are identified as a close contact of someone with coronavirus.

From 1 April onwards, people are encouraged to “exercise personal responsibility”.

Routine contact tracing also ends from Thursday, along with the £500 self-isolation support payments and the legal obligation for people to tell their employers about their requirement to isolate.

Changes to statutory sick pay and employment support allowance designed to help people through the coronavirus pandemic will end on 24 March.

Announcing the changes this week, Mr Johnson said: “From this Thursday, it will no longer be law to self-isolate if you test positive, and so we will also end the provision of self-isolation support payments, although Statutory Sick Pay can still be claimed for a further month.

“If you’re a fully vaccinated close contact or under 18 you will no longer be asked to test daily for seven days.

“And if you are close contact who is not fully vaccinated you will no longer be required to self-isolate.

“Until 1 April, we will still advise you to stay at home if you test positive.

“But after that, we will encourage people with Covid symptoms to exercise personal responsibility, just as we encourage people who may have flu to be considerate towards others.”

Mr Johnson added that there will likely be another Covid variant that will “cause us trouble” in the future, but it is thanks to high levels of immunity that restrictions are able to be eased.

He added: “I don’t want you to think that there’s some division between the gung-ho politicians and the cautious, anxious scientists, much as it may suit everybody to say so.

“We have a very clear view of this. This has not gone away.

“We’re able to make these changes now because of the vaccines and the high level of immunity and all the other considerations about Omicron that you’ve seen.

“But we have to face the fact that there could be, likely will be, another variant that will cause us trouble.

“But I believe that thanks to a lot of the stuff that we’ve done, particularly investment in vaccines and vaccine technology and therapeutics, we’ll be in a far better position to tackle that new variant when it comes.”

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