Last reviewed 12 August 2021

With effect from Monday 16 August, people who are double jabbed or aged under 18 will no longer be legally required to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case.

With 75% of people having received both doses of the vaccine, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) notes, the majority of adults will no longer need to self-isolate if they are contacts.

It said that the changes can be made now as a result of the remarkable success of the UK’s vaccine programme. The latest data from Public Health England (PHE) and Cambridge University show that around 60,000 deaths, 22 million infections and 66,900 hospitalisations have been prevented by the vaccines.

Double-jabbed individuals and under 18s who are identified as close contacts by NHS Test and Trace are now advised to take a PCR test as soon as possible to check if they have the virus and for variants of concern.

They can order a PCR home test online or by calling 119, or going to a test site.

As double-jabbed people identified as close contacts are still at risk of being infected, they 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.

They will not, however, be required to self-isolate while they wait for the results of the PCR test.

The vaccine previously allowed critical workers to leave self-isolation to ensure vital services continued. The changes introduced on 16 August will mean that, with some additional precautions for health and care settings, fully vaccinated contacts will routinely be able to attend work if they do not have symptoms.

Updates will be made to the Covid-19 app to align with the changing requirements to self-isolation. App users identified as a close contact who confirm that they are double vaccinated or under 18 do not need to self-isolate and will be given advice to book a PCR test.

The Workplace Daily Contact Testing scheme will continue, with testing sites offering daily testing as an alternative to self-isolation for close contacts who are not double jabbed.

Schools and colleges

Removing self-isolation for under 18s comes ahead of thousands of pupils and students returning to school and college for the autumn term and is, the DHSC said, a crucial step to reduce disruption to education and keep children in the classroom.

In line with Step 4 of the Government’s Covid-19 roadmap, “bubbles” will end for all children under 18, social distancing will no longer be necessary, and schools will not need to stagger start and finish times.

Two onsite tests should be taken by each secondary school and college student on return, followed by twice-weekly testing at home. The Government will review testing requirements by the end of September.