Major change announced to Covid rules ahead of Christmas


The Government intended Christmas to arrive restriction-free this year, with most Britons anticipating a more open occasion thanks to the rapid rollout of the Covid booster vaccine. Omicron’s surprise emergence led to decisive action, with ministers immediately applying pressure on the variant via travel rules and extended mask mandates. With cases now testing daily records, the Government has not stopped there, but has given people some respite from the rules.

Many of the rules Britons are currently following at home were drafted into law by MPs last week, who voted them in through the House of Commons.

These include:

  • Vaccine passports for selected venues
  • Compulsory face coverings in indoor public venues
  • Work from home arrangements
  • Mandatory self-isolation for confirmed Covid cases

The latest changes, announced by the Government today, will allow vaccinated people to reduce their required 10-day self-isolation period to seven days.

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New advice released by the Government this morning states people can reduce their stay with lateral flow tests.

Two tests – taken on days six and seven – must show negative results before they exit self-isolation.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) believes the narrower isolation combined with lateral flow testing has the same effect as staying away from public contact for 10 days.

Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA chief executive, said the arrangements would help “break chains of transmission and minimise the impact on lives and livelihoods”.

She added: “As always, we urge everyone who is eligible to get their booster jab without delay, wear a mask in crowded spaces, on public transport and in shops, wash your hands regularly and ventilate rooms well.

“If you have any COVID-19 symptoms stay at home and get a PCR test as soon as possible.”

Health secretary Sajid Javid said the Government aimed to “reduce the disruption from COVID-19 to people’s everyday lives”.

While the Government will allow people to leave early, it has advised them to continue taking precautions to limit transmission.


Speaking yesterday, the Prime Minister announced Omicron – which can bypass two Covid vaccine doses and transmits faster – has created an “extremely difficult” situation.

But Mr Johnson said he didn’t think there was enough evidence to “justify any tougher measures before Christmas”.

As he pledged to “keep a constant eye on the data”, cases stayed at record-breaking highs for the seventh day in a row.

On Tuesday, officials reported another 90,629, with the UK’s average case rate by week sitting on 87,958.1, the highest since the pandemic began.



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