People who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will no longer have to isolate if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
From Monday, people in England who have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine, or are under 18, will not have to spend 10 days in quarantine if they are a contact of a positive case, a change which has been hailed “another step back towards normality”.
They will be advised to take a PCR test, but that will not be compulsory and they will not have to self-isolate while they wait for the result.
The new guidance will apply to people who had their final dose of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before coming into contact with a positive case.
People who test positive will still be legally required to self-isolate.
As double jabbed people identified as close contacts are still at risk of being infected, people are advised to consider other precautions such as wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces, and limiting contact with other people, especially with anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.
From Monday in Northern Ireland, people who are close contacts of positive cases will no longer have to isolate for 10 days, as long as they test negative, have no symptoms and have had both jabs of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The British public have played a vital role following self-isolation rules throughout the pandemic and sacrificing so much to help bring the virus under control.
“The requirement for double-jabbed and under-18s who are contacts of people with Covid-19 has been removed as we cautiously take another step back towards normality, thanks to the phenomenal success of our vaccine rollout.
“Vaccines are what will bring this pandemic to an end, with over 84,000 lives already saved and 23 million infections prevented.
“Please come forward to receive your jab as soon as you can to protect yourself and the people around you.”
Some extra safeguards were put in place for those working with vulnerable people, particularly health and social care staff, including a risk assessment for staff working in health and care and daily lateral flow tests.
Members of the public in Wales are strongly advised not to visit hospitals and care homes for 10 days.
Everyone identified as a contact of a positive case in Wales will continue to be advised to have a PCR test on day two and day eight, whether they are fully vaccinated or not.
In Scotland it is also already the case that double-vaccinated adults and all children can avoid self-isolation as a close contact so long as they are symptomless and provide a negative PCR test.