From 17 January 2021
People with COVID-19 in England can end their self-isolation after 5 full days, as long as they test negative on day 5 and day 6. You can stop self-isolating at the start of day 6 if you get 2 negative rapid lateral flow test results on days 5 and 6 and do not have a temperature. Tests must be at least 24 hours apart. If either test is positive, wait 24 hours before testing again.
England is moving to Plan B in response to the risks of the Omicron variant.
You are strongly discouraged from all unnecessary travel to red or amber list countries or territories, for example for leisure purposes.
A new COVID-19 variant is spreading in some parts of England. Find out what you should do.
Coronavirus remains a serious health risk. You should stay cautious to help protect yourself and others.
Legal limits on the number of people allowed to meet outdoors and indoors, including in places of worship have been removed. The 1m+ social distancing rule has also been removed.
COVID-19 remains a risk
It is still possible to catch and spread COVID-19, even if you are fully vaccinated.
Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result should stay at home and self-isolate immediately. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should arrange to take a PCR test as soon as possible, even if you’ve had one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 will be a feature of our lives for the foreseeable future, so we need to learn to live with it and manage the risk to ourselves and others.
All of us can play our part by understanding the situations where risks of COVID-19 infection and transmission are likely to be higher, and taking action to reduce these risks.
Following this guidance will help you to understand situations where there is a greater risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 and the steps that you can take to stay safe and protect others. Every action you can take to help reduce the spread will help reduce pressure on the NHS during the winter months.
Understanding the risks of COVID-19
The risk of catching or passing on COVID-19 can be higher in certain places and when doing certain activities. COVID-19 is spread by airborne transmission, close contact via droplets, and via surfaces. Airborne transmission is a very significant way that the virus circulates. It is possible to be infected by someone you don’t have close contact with, especially if you’re in a crowded and/or poorly ventilated space.
Close contact with an infected person is also a significant way COVID-19 is spread. When someone with COVID-19 breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they release particles containing the virus that causes COVID-19. The particles can come into contact with the eyes, nose or mouth or can be breathed in by another person. The particles can also land on surfaces and be passed from person to person via touch.
In general, the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19 is higher in crowded and enclosed spaces, where there are more people who might be infectious and limited fresh air.
In situations where there is a higher risk of catching or passing on COVID-19, you should be particularly careful to follow the guidance on keeping yourself and others safe. Every little action helps to keep us all safer.
Keeping yourself and others safe
There are still cases of COVID-19 in England and there is a risk you could catch or pass on the virus, even once you are fully vaccinated. This means it is important that you understand and consider the risks of catching or spreading COVID-19 in all situations.
While no situation is risk free, there are easy and effective actions you can take to protect yourself and others around you.
If you are worried about going back to a more ‘normal’ life, there is information from the NHS on how to cope with anxiety about lockdown lifting.
If you do travel, follow the expert advice on hand washing and other health measures.
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