Self-isolation period in UK cut to five days, here’s what you should know

Jan 13, 2022

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The Health Secretary has today announced that the self-isolation period for those who test positive for COVID-19 will be reduced to five days.

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The changes will come into effect from Monday 17 January 2022 and will allow people who have tested positive to leave isolation if they’re able to produce two negative lateral flow tests on days five and six. 

This would mean spending only five days in isolation with the ability to leave quarantine on the sixth day.  This is two days less than the current rules in place, which may seem like a small amount but could be a boon for travellers on extended visits to the U.K., or Brits looking to reduce potential time off or in quarantine upon their return from a holiday.

Related: What Boris Johnson’s potential resignation could mean for UK travel

The self-isolation period was previously cut from 10 to seven days with negative tests on days six and seven back in December. Sajid Javid told the Commons that the changes followed a “review of all the evidence” provided by the UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA)  that showed “around two-thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by the end of day five.”

Related: Which European countries have COVID-19 restrictions in place right now?

Speaking to MPs, the Health Secretary said: “From Monday, people can test twice before they go, leaving isolation at the start of day six.

“These two tests are critical to these balanced and proportionate plans, and I’d urge everyone to take advantage of the capacity we have built up in tests so we can restore the freedoms to this country while we’re keeping everyone safe.”

Experts had previously warned that cutting the quarantine period to five days could have a detrimental effect and lead to a surge in infections. While Boris Johnson will be hoping the changes curry good favour with the British public after recent calls for his resignation — you can read TPG’s analysis of how that could affect U.K. travel here. 

Earlier this month pre-departure testing rules were also changed to allow travellers entering the U.K. to no longer be required to prove they don’t have COVID-19 before coming from overseas.

Featured image by Justin Paget / Getty

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