The NHS Test and Trace system will be made more “proportionate”, Sajid Javid has promised, with double-vaccinated contacts expected to be spared the need to self-isolate.
The Health Secretary has updated MPs on the latest plans for easing self-isolation restrictions – after Boris Johnson promised the wholesale lifting of Covid rules in England which has triggered warnings from scientists and Labour.
What did Sajid Javid say in the Commons? Here’s what you need to know.
What did Sajid Javid say in his announcement?
Mr Javid told MPs on 6 July: “We will soon be able to take a risk-based approach that recognises the huge benefits that the vaccines provide both to people who get the jab and their loved ones too.
“So from 16 August when even more people will have the protection of both doses, and when modelling suggests the risks from the virus will be even lower, anyone who’s a close contact of a positive case will no longer have to self-isolate if they have been fully vaccinated.
“If someone gets their second dose just before or just after 16 August, they’ll need to wait two weeks, after which their second jab can take effect and give them these new freedoms.”
Will I still need to take a PCR test from 16 August?
Sajid Javid said: “We’ll be drawing on the huge capacity we’ve built for testing and sequencing and advising close contacts who are fully vaccinated to take a PCR test as soon as possible so they can get certainty about their condition.
“And of course anyone that tests positive will have to self-isolate whether they have had the jab or not.”
He added: “This new approach means that we can manage the virus in a way that’s proportionate to the pandemic while maintaining the freedoms that are so important to us all.”
The announcements follow Mr Johnson’s gamble on trusting the wall of immunity provided by vaccines and the judgment of the English public once legal restrictions are lifted – expected on July 19.
The Prime Minister acknowledged there may be 50,000 new cases a day by that point but insisted that if legal limits on gatherings and laws requiring the wearing of masks were not lifted this summer they may have to remain in place for another year.
Mr Javid suggested cases could rise to more than 100,000 a day in the summer as restrictions are eased.
Limits on social contact and the “one metre plus” rule on distancing will end on Freedom Day (19 July) as nightclubs will be permitted to reopen.
People will no longer be instructed to work from home and the legal requirement to wear masks will end, though their use will be advised in “enclosed and crowded places”.
Will under 18s still need to self-isolate from 16 August?
On under-18s, Mr Javid said: “So in line with the approach for adults, anyone under the age of 18 who is a close contact of a positive case will no longer have to self-isolate.
“Instead they’ll be given advice about whether they should get tested, dependent on their age and will need to self-isolate only if they test positive.
“These measures will also come into force on August 16 ahead of the autumn school term.”
What are the current self-isolation measures?
Self-isolation is when you do not leave your home because you have, or might have, Covid - which is different from shielding.
If you're told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app the rules to follow currently include to self-isolate immediately.
The app also warns that you do not leave your home for any reason, do not have visitors in your home - except for essential care - try to avoid contact with anyone you live with and arrange for them to live with another family member if they are at higher risk of catching the virus.
People in support bubbles do not need to self-isolate if you don’t have symptoms.
Your self-isolation period includes the day you were last in contact with the person who tested positive and the next 10 full days.
If you get Covid symptoms - get a PCR test from the government website and send it off to the lab while you’re self-isolating.
Anyone you live with must self-isolate until you’ve been tested and received your result.