New Covid self-isolation rules: Double-jabbed contacts of positive cases will not need to isolate from August 16

ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen explains the new rules around self-isolation and hears from the people apprehensive at the change

Fully vaccinated close contacts of positive cases will not have to isolate from August 16 in a change to current contact tracing rules, the Health Secretary has announced.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Sajid Javid said the approach allowed the government to "manage the virus in a way that is proportionate to the pandemic, while maintaining the freedoms that are so important to us all."

Mr Javid said close contacts would be advised to take a PCR test as soon as possible “so they can get certainty about their condition”.

Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will still have to isolate regardless of whether they have had a vaccine or not.

People aged under 18, who are not yet eligible for vaccination, will also be able to avoid isolation if they are a close contact of a positive case from August 16.

"From 16th August, when even more people will have the protection of both doses and when modelling suggests the risk from the virus will be even lower, anyone who is a close contact of a positive case will no longer have to self-isolate if they have been fully vaccinated," Mr Javid told MPs.

How are the rules around isolation changing?

"If someone gets their second dose just before or just after the 16th august, they’ll need to wait 2 weeks after which their second jab will take effect and give them these new freedoms.

"This will allow the vaccine time to build up maximum protection."

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth warned the "protective wall" provided by the vaccine was "only half-built" and called on the government to reverse its plan to remove rules for mandatory mask-wearing.

He said: "Now he has justified allowing infections to climb by pointing to the weakened link between hospitalisations and deaths and that we are building a protective wall.

"But of course, the wall is only half-built and we know from outbreaks in Israel and research that the Delta variant can be transmitted through fully vaccinated people even if they don’t get it."

He added: "Let’s have a U-turn on mask-wearing, yes let’s have freedom but not a high-risk free-for-all, keep masks for now, fix sick pay, and let’s unlock in a safe and sustainable way."

Lockdown rules in England: What's changing from July 19

What has happened to social distancing and the rule of six?

The 'one metre plus' rule has been scrapped entirely, as of July 19 in England. However, some guidance to maintain social distancing in certain situations will remain in place of the legal restrictions.

Social distancing guidance will continue if someone is Covid positive and self-isolating, or in airports, or other ports of entry, to avoid travellers arriving from amber or red-list countries mixing with those from green list areas.

Limits on social contact in England have disappeared, meaning the end of the rule of six indoors and the limit of 30 people for outdoor gatherings.

Do I still need to wear a face mask?

There is now no legal requirements to wear face coverings - but guidance still encourages using masks in some settings, including hospitals, healthcare settings and in crowded enclosed public spaces.

Has the working from home guidance changed?

The guidance on working from home has gone. It's ultimately down to employers to decide whether to keep staff at home or in the office, but the government say employers are able to plan the return of staff to the workplace.

What about weddings and funerals?

The current limits on numbers of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other life events has ended.

What's happening in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?

The changes to Covid rules announced by Boris Johnson, only impact England and will not change regulations in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland.

The Welsh Government “would like to move together” with other parts of the UK in lifting coronavirus restrictions but will only do so if it is “right for Wales”, health minister Eluned Morgan said on Monday 5 July.

As of July 19, restrictions in Scotland have eased, with all areas of the country moving to level 0. The government is aiming to lift all major restrictions in Scotland by August 9.

In Northern Ireland, some significant restrictions have already been eased including allowing the resumption of live music and the lifting of caps on organised outdoor gatherings.

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The announcements follows Boris Johnson's pledge to remove nearly all legal coronavirus restrictions by step four of the roadmap, expected on July 19.

Mr Javid said the government was also "looking at self-isolation rules for international travel" and that they would update MPs later this week.

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