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What are the new Covid 19 rules from today as self isolation and free testing prepares to come to an end



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People with coronavirus will no longer be forced into isolation from today as England begins a new route on the road to living with the virus.

In setting outs its 'living with Covid' plans the government says the country will begin to treat Covid like other infectious diseases such as flu, which will start today with the ending of all domestic legal restrictions.

Alongside doing away with the legal requirement to remain at home while infected, routine contact tracing and self-isolation support payments are also among the features of the last two years that will cease to exist from today.

The requirement to self-isolate after a positive coronavirus test will be scrapped today
The requirement to self-isolate after a positive coronavirus test will be scrapped today

If you're not sure how this might affect you or your family, here are some of the biggest changes you're likely to notice:

If you have Covid

While the law will no longer tell you to isolate with coronavirus, and you'll no longer face a £1,000 fine if you're found to have left the house while infected, Boris Johnson has been quick to point out we must not suddenly throw caution to the wind.

Until April 1 anyone who has tested positive is being advised to stay at home and avoid contact with others for at least five full days and continue to follow that guidance until they have received two negative test results on two consecutive days as per the rules which were in place up until this morning.

In Monday's press conference the Prime Minister said: "We will encourage people with Covid symptoms to exercise personal responsibility just as we encourage people who may have flu to be considerate towards others."

People will no longer be forced to remain at home from today
People will no longer be forced to remain at home from today

If you're a close contact

Up until now close contacts of someone who had tested positive have been asked to take lateral flow tests for seven consecutive days in order to catch any transmitted infection.

From today fully vaccinated adults or those aged under 18 who are close contacts will no longer need to test daily and the legal requirement for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate for 10 days - regardless of whether they test positive or not - is also being removed.

As a result routine contact tracing is also being wound up while teachers, students and those in childcare settings also no longer have to take twice-weekly routine tests.

While the legal obligation has been removed people are being asked to follow guidance
While the legal obligation has been removed people are being asked to follow guidance

Financial help

While people will still be asked to self isolate if they are infected until April 1, previous financial support that had been available for people stuck at home with Covid - or caring for a child with coronavirus - ends today.

The £500 self isolation support payment, which was paid as a lump sum to people off work and was set up to help encourage people to follow previous self-isolation rules, is being scrapped.

Those who aren't able to get any money from their workplace if they're at home with Covid 19 can still apply for Statutory Sick Pay.

Face masks

The legal requirement to wear face masks in indoor settings has already been dropped - albeit some supermarkets and other businesses have continued to ask customers and visitors to still wear them.

Transport for London, which has required its passengers wear face masks in order to travel on its network, says it will drop its mandatory rule from today in exchange for a request that those on its buses, tubes and over ground services continue to still use face coverings where possible.

From April 1 England's testing programme is being wound down
From April 1 England's testing programme is being wound down

The end of free testing and other key changes from April

Those with coronavirus are still being asked to stay at home until April 1, after which even this request is expected to completely fall away.

As a result England's current testing regime is also being steadily wound down as we get closer to the spring, with free testing only set to remain in place for 'at risk' groups - a decision that has been criticised by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and some medical professionals concerned that outbreaks or new variants risk going undetected until it might be too late to tackle them effectively.

Speaking after Monday's announcement Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association council chairman, explained: "On the one hand the government says it will keep monitoring the spread of the virus, and asks individuals to take greater responsibility for their own decisions, but by removing free testing for the vast majority of the population on the other, ministers are taking away the central tool to allow both of these to happen."

Testing will remain in place for some at-risk groups and social care workers
Testing will remain in place for some at-risk groups and social care workers

From the start of April, the government intends to end free symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public - instead the UK Health Security Agency says it is working with retailers to ensure anyone who wants to buy a test can do so.

Limited symptomatic testing will be available, say ministers, for a 'small number of at-risk groups' and says it will set out shortly which people will be eligible.

Free testing for those with symptoms will also be kept in place for social care staff, says the UK Health Security Agency, while future arrangements for NHS staff are yet to be confirmed.

A fourth injection - or coronavirus booster - is also set to be offered from the spring to all those aged over 75 and anyone over 12 with a compromised immune system.

Could Covid passes become a thing of the past in England?
Could Covid passes become a thing of the past in England?

Other changes to Covid 19 rules from April 1 will also include removing the health and safety requirement for employers to explicitly consider Covid 19 in any risk assessments they must carry out while the government also says it is going to remove the current guidance on Covid-status certificates and will no longer recommend that certain venues continue using the NHS Covid Pass.

Covid passes or certificates for international travel however will still be needed, with travellers needing to still follow the rules for the country which they're visiting.



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