Self isolation rules for double-vaccinated and under-18s in Wales eased

People who are currently identified as a close contact of a Covid case must self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status Credit: PA

Those who have received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine in Wales will no longer have to isolate if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive.

The rule change, announced by the Welsh Government on Thursday evening, will come into effect on 7 August, when Wales is expected to move to Alert Level Zero.

Children and young people under 18 will also be exempt from the need to self-isolate if they are also identified as close contacts of a positive case.

The move to Alert Level Zero will see all remaining coronavirus restrictions in Wales lifted including social distancing, but mask wearing in indoor settings will stay as a legal requirement with the exception of hospitality settings - a different approach to England, which saw the relaxation of mask wearing come into force on 19 July.

Masks will remain a legal requirement in indoor settings in Wales such as on public transport, in shops and when accessing healthcare.

It comes as more than 685,000 people were told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app in the week to July 21 - a record number for the 'pingdemic'.

At least 689,313 alerts were sent to users of the NHS Covid-19 app in England and Wales, telling them they had been in contact with coronavirus and must self-isolate, figures show.

The Welsh Government said the changes will help "ease the pressure on vital services" caused by the recent rapid rise in Covid cases, driven by the delta variant over the last two months.

Bosses have warned staff shortages have put significant pressure on services such as food, retail and in the NHS

England also introduced a 'Covid exemption list' for key workers who were able to avoid self-isolation rules, but the health minister in Wales said last week the country would not be following suit, and urged people to adhere to the self-isolation rules until any changed was announced.

Under the plans in Wales, the government advises people to do a coronavirus test on day two and day eight after being informed to self-isolate and there will also be safeguards for those working with vulnerable people.

On Thursday, it was announced 80% of the Welsh adult population have been fully vaccinated, with the rollout being extended to under-18s.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said those who have been fully vaccinated offers protection agains the virus and "they are far less likely to contract it when they are identified as close contacts."

“Self-isolation on symptoms or a positive test result continues to be a powerful measure in helping to break the chains of transmission and stop the spread of the virus. It is important we retain this, even for people who have been fully vaccinated", he said.

“We can remove the need for self-isolation for the two million adults who have completed their vaccine course, helping to keep Wales safe and working.

“We are also removing the need for children and young people under 18 to self-isolate, recognising the impact long periods out of school and college is having on their well-being and education.”