COVID-19 self-isolation can end after five full days

From Monday 17 January 2022, people self-isolating with COVID-19 will have the option to reduce their isolation period after five full days. They must test negative on both day 5 and day 6 and not have a temperature.

Individuals who are still positive on their lateral flow tests must stay in isolation. Isolation must continue until they have had two consecutive negative tests taken on separate days. This measure will support essential public services and keep supply chains running over the winter.

The decision has been made after careful consideration of modelling from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

It is important that people isolating with COVID-19 wait until they have received two negative lateral flow tests on two consecutive days to reduce the chance of still being infectious.

If leaving self-isolation earlier than the full 10 day period:

  • The first test must be taken after day 5 of the self-isolation period. The second must be taken the following day.
  • Two negative lateral flow tests must be taken on consecutive days and reported. This should be done before individuals return to their job or education. For instance, if an individual is positive on day 5; then a negative test is required on both day 6 and day 7 to release from self-isolation. If the test is positive on day 6, then a negative test is required on days 7 and 8. This continues to apply until the end of day 10.
  • You are strongly advised to wear face coverings and limit close contact with other peopleIf if you intend to leave self-isolation on or after day 6. This should be followed especially in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces. Work from home if you can do so and minimise contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with COVID- 19.

The default self-isolation period continues to be 10 days. You may only leave self-isolation early if you have taken two LFDs and do not have a temperature in line with guidance.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid said:

After reviewing all of the evidence, we’ve made the decision to reduce the minimum self-isolation period to five full days in England, subject to two negative lateral flow tests taken a day apart.

These two tests are critical to these balanced and proportionate plans. I’d urge everyone to take advantage of the capacity we’ve built and take these tests so we can restore more freedom to this country, while keeping us safe.

Existing public health measures remain in place, including:

  • staying at home if you feel unwell
  • getting a test if you experience any COVID-19 symptoms
  • wearing a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces
  • working from home if possible
  • maintaining social distancing and regular hand washing
  • taking up the offer of the free COVID-19 vaccine

Self-isolation may continue in certain circumstances, such as for those who work with vulnerable people. A full list will be published in guidance in due course. Vaccinations remain our best defence against COVID-19, offering substantial protection against infection and hospitalisation. The government continues to urge the public to get boosted as soon as you’re eligible. 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 seven days.