The Covid-19 legal isolation rules for England look set to be replaced by new guidance as part of a government 'Living with Covid' strategy.
Boris Johnson announced the decision at Prime Minster's Questions today (Wednesday) with a spokesperson saying afterwards that this would be an “important step for this country” on the route towards learning to live with Covid.
The spokesperson added: "What we would simply be doing is removing the domestic regulations which relate to isolation. But obviously in the same way that someone with flu, we wouldn’t recommend they go to work, we would never recommend anyone goes to work when they have an infectious disease."
Under the current rules, anyone who tests positive must self-isolate for at least five days. The current regulations are due to expire on 24 March when the Coronavirus Act 2020 is reviewed.
Johnson told parliament: "It is my intention to return on the first day after the half-term recess to present our strategy for living with Covid. Provided the current encouraging trends in the data continue, it is my expectation that we will be able to end the last domestic restrictions - including the legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive - a full month early."
One in 19 people currently have Covid-19
Latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures show that in England, the percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus (Covid-19) increased in the two weeks up to 5 February 2022. It estimated that 2,824,700 people in England had Covid-19 equating to around one in 19 people.
The percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 varied substantially across age groups, with the highest for those aged 2 years to school Year 6 at 11.46% and lowest for those aged 70 years and over at 2.50% in the week ending 5 February 2022.
Deepti Gurdasani, a clinical epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London, said: "Removing requirements for self-isolation will lead to preventable illness and death. Disproportionately in CV, elderly, minoritised, poor and disabled people who can do little to protect themselves - as they enter workplaces, transport, society with people who are infected."
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea added: “Everybody wants to get back to normal, but Covid risks haven’t disappeared. This is going too far, way too soon.
“Infections are still rife in schools. Large numbers of pupils and staff are off. Allowing a premature return could lead to a further jump in infections and disrupt learning for thousands more.”