Self-isolation rules to change on Monday, August 16, ending self-isolation for double jabbed adults and under 18s who come into contact with a positive case
Double vaccinated adults and children who come into contact with a positive coronavirus case will no longer be forced into self-isolation from today (Monday).
Ahead of the new school year, and as part of efforts to end the 'pingdemic', the Government is making further moves to scale-back social distancing measures.
Since schools opened to all pupils after the second lockdown in March, hundreds of thousands of pupils have still spent many weeks out of lessons because of the bubble system, which closed down entire classes or even year groups when a positive coronavirus case among a group of children or teenagers and their teachers was identified.
In one week of July alone, more than 640,000 children in England were estimated to be at home self-isolating for the required 10 days, because a fellow student with the virus had 'popped' their bubble forcing them all into quarantine.
From July 19, and for the last few days of the summer term, headteachers were permitted by the Department for Education to narrow the bubble system if they wished, to no longer keep assemblies and groups socially distanced, and to only identify 'close contacts' of a positive case for self-isolation, albeit many chose to continue with measures already in place until the last day of term to avoid additional disruption.
But as part of efforts to keep more healthy children in school over the coming year, that entire system is to be officially disbanded from today in favour of only sending home the pupil who has tested positive for the virus and keeping everyone else, including close contacts, in lessons.
A similar set of guidelines will also apply to childcare settings for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers to both keep them in nursery and lessen the burden on working parents who also face considerable disruption when a bubble bursts.
Instead, from today, under 18s will only need to self-isolate if they test positive for coronavirus themselves – if they are felt to be a close contact of the person who is positive they may be advised to take a PCR test as soon as possible to rule out any risk that they too are also contagious. If they test positive, they will need to self-isolate along with their household as normal.
Children aged under five who are identified as close contacts will only be asked to take a PCR test if the positive case is within their own household.
What about double vaccinated adults?
From today, self-isolation rules are also to be eased for double-jabbed adults, which businesses hope will also end the huge numbers of staff confined at home for 10 days because they've met with someone who has gone on to test positive for coronavirus.
Dubbed the 'pingdemic' – because of the large numbers alerted either by the NHS app or Test and Trace that they need to isolate – the rule has caused significant disruption for families, companies and attractions like theatres where entire departments of staff or a company of performers have been forced into isolation because of one positive test.
Despite initially announcing plans to end self-isolation for those who have received two doses of a coronavirus jab at the start of July, it was decided the roll-out of the new rules would be delayed until August 16 to allow as many over 18s as possible to get their vaccines.
Those adults who have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, and are two weeks from the second jab to ensure maximum protection, will no longer be told to isolate if they've come into close contact with a positive covid case. Like under 18s they will instead be advised to take a PCR test to see if they've contracted the virus.
If, says the Government, that test turns out to be positive they will still be required to isolate for the 10 days irrespective of vaccine status.
To read more about the next stage click here.