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Update on COVID-19 self-isolation rules

02 Aug 2021

There has been an update on the UK regulations for self-isolation exemptions for those who have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19. This information is correct at the time of posting but may be subject to review

There has been an update on the UK regulations for self-isolation exemptions for those who have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19. This information is correct at the time of posting but may be subject to review.


From 23 July, changes were made to self-isolation rules for close contacts of COVID-19 cases to allow essential staff in critical roles to return to work to maintain lifeline services and critical national infrastructure.

It will be possible to apply to exempt those who work in critical roles where staff shortages are in danger of putting essential services, such as health and social care, transport and the provision of food supplies at risk.

Exemption will only be granted in respect of members of staff who voluntarily agree not to self isolate, and the employers’ duty of care to all their employees must be respected.

Strict conditions will apply – staff must be double-vaccinated and in receipt of their second dose at least two weeks previously. They will also require to have a negative PCR test and to agree to undertake daily lateral flow tests.

Further information can be found on the Scottish Government website.


From 19 July, in exceptional circumstances – where there would otherwise be a major detrimental impact on essential services – a limited number of critical workers may be informed by their employer, following advice from the relevant government department, that they may be able to leave self-isolation to attend work.

This will only apply to workers who are fully vaccinated (defined as someone who is 14 days post-final dose) and will be solely so that they can attend work. They will otherwise need to continue to self-isolate as directed by NHS Test and Trace. It applies to asymptomatic contacts only and not individuals who have tested positive or who have COVID-19 symptoms.

This is a short-term measure before the exemption for fully vaccinated contacts is introduced on 16 August. It is highly limited and focused to prevent public harm from disruption to critical services. It will only apply to named individuals from a specific set of organisations. Employers covered by this process will receive a letter from a government department setting out the designated critical workers and telling employers what steps they and those critical workers must follow.


Wales will become the first UK country to stop asking fully vaccinated adults to self-isolate after close contact with a positive Covid case.

The change will affect more than two million people who have received two jabs.

Under-18s will also be exempt under the new rules being brought in from 7 August.

The Welsh government said the decision would “ease pressure on vital services” after a recent rise in cases.

Further information can be found here.

Northern Ireland

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, you should begin self-isolating and book a test. If your test result is positive you should not leave your home for ten days from when your symptoms started.

This action will help protect others in your community while you are infectious. If your test result is negative you are no longer required to self-isolate.

If you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all other household members must stay at home and the symptomatic member should be tested.

If the test result is positive then all household members should continue to self-isolate for ten days. The ten day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. If the test result is negative for the symptomatic household member then the household can stop self-isolating.

Category: COVID-19

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