From today (16 August 2021) the rules around what to do if you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 have changed.
If you are identified as a close contact of a confirmed Covid-19 case you now won’t have to automatically self-isolate, if you meet any of the following:
Have been double vaccinated in the UK (2nd dose at least 14 days ago)
Are aged 18 years and under
Are exempt from vaccination for medical reasons – with a letter from their GP or another medical professional.
Are taking part in an approved vaccine trial
Being fully vaccinated reduces our risk of getting Covid-19 and spreading it to other people – but it does not completely prevent it. Rates locally are still very high (around 350/100,000) so although there is no longer a legal requirement for fully vaccinated contacts to self-isolate, you should remain cautious for 10 days to reduce your risk of spreading infection to others.
You should take a PCR test, although you don’t have to isolate while you await the results. You should wear a face covering indoors or where it is difficult to socially distance and limit your contact with others, especially those who are vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19
In addition, if you have already started your 10-day self-isolation as a close contact of someone with confirmed COVID, and now meet the above criteria, there is no longer a legal requirement to self-isolate.
Importantly, if you are unwell – even with mild symptoms, you should always isolate and get a test.
What will happen if I’m contacted by NHS Test and Trace and advised that I am a contact of someone with COVID?
The call advisor will ask about whether you have been vaccinated.
If you are fully vaccinated (2nd dose at least 14 days ago)
You will be advised to take a PCR test. Children under 5 do not need to take one. You only need to legally self-isolate if you test positive or develop symptoms of COVID-19. You will be advised to limit your social contact, limit your contact with vulnerable people, wear a face covering and socially distance.
If you are fully vaccinated but have had a positive PCR test within the previous 90 days
You shouldn’t take another PCR test; however, you should take regular symptom free rapid flow tests (LFTs) instead. You only need to self-isolate if you test positive or develop symptoms of COVID-19. You will be advised to limit your social contact, limit your contact with vulnerable people, wear a face covering and socially distance.
If you have had no COVID vaccine or just the first
If you are not fully vaccinated (2nd dose at least 14 days ago) or have been vaccinated outside of the UK, you need to self-isolate for 10 days, even if you have a negative PCR test result.
Additional measures are advised for contacts who work in Health and Social Care to reduce the risk of spread of infection to vulnerable people.
Contacts who work as frontline health and social care workers, and who are doubly vaccinated (2nd dose 14 days or more ago) must have a negative PCR result before returning to work.
On days that you are working, the LFT needs to be taken before starting your shift, and the result needs to be negative.
You need to follow all relevant infection control measures and PPE should be properly worn throughout the day.
If you work with patients or residents who are highly vulnerable to COVID-19, a risk assessment should be done and if appropriate, consideration given to redeployment of different duties during the 10-day period you would have isolated in.
Current advice for contacts who work in the NHS is that they cannot return to work if there is a case of COVID in their household. This advice does not apply to social care staff.