The Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that Scotland’s coronavirus self-isolation rules would be changing following calls to bring the nation’s Covid rules in line with those in the rest of the UK.
The UK is continuing to see daily coronavirus cases spike as the impact of the Omicron variant’s rise during the festive period starts to come to light.
There were 218,724 daily Covid cases reported in the UK as a whole on Tuesday January 4 – with Scotland seeing its daily positive rate remain high with 16,103 cases on Wednesday (January 5).
With more people across the UK and worldwide testing positive for Covid-19 than ever before, knowing when and how to self-isolate to slow the spread of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant is key.
So, after Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid update today, here are the changes to Scotland’s self-isolation rules and how long you have to self-isolate for if you are a close contact in Scotland.
How long do I need to self-isolate for in Scotland?
Self-isolation has been imposed on people in countries all over the world as one of the key ways to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
In Scotland, the self-isolation period was previously 10 days – as it was across the UK before Omicron began to spread quickly through the population in early December.
Plan B Covid measures were introduced in England in early December saw self-isolation rules change in the country as the threat of Omicron increased.
But after several countries, including England, France, Spain and the United States, cut self-isolation periods, Scotland has now followed suit by reducing the self-isolation period to seven days for fully jabbed Scots.
People in Scotland who test positive for coronavirus will now be able to end isolation after seven days if they do not have a fever and record two negative lateral flow tests.
The first of these lateral flow tests must be administered no earlier than day six after testing positive – with the second lateral flow test to be completed at least 24 hours after the first.
Who has to self-isolate in Scotland?
It remains the case that if you test positive on a lateral flow device, regardless of vaccination status, you must self-isolate for at least seven days.
The Scottish Government revised its rules on self-isolation in Scotland on Wednesday January 5 after as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was urged to bring Scotland’s Covid rules in line with those of other UK nations.
Updated self-isolation rules in Scotland no longer require close contacts – including household contacts – of someone testing positive for coronavirus to self-isolate for 10 days regardless of vaccination status or their own test result.
Under the new Scottish Covid isolation rules, close contacts who have been fully vaccinated with a first, second and booster or third dose of a coronavirus vaccine will no longer need to self-isolate in Scotland.
Instead, they will need to do daily lateral flow tests for seven days in order to ensure that they have not caught the virus.
If a close contact tests positive on any of these lateral flow tests, they must self-isolate for 10 days – but can be released from isolation on day seven if they are fully jabbed, do not have a fever and have two negative lateral flow tests, as outlined above.
Unvaccinated and partially-jabbed adults will still have to self-isolate for 10 days if identified as a close contact by Test and Protect, regardless of whether they present any Covid or Omicron symptoms.
What else did Nicola Sturgeon say in today’s Covid announcement?
The First Minister also announced in Wednesday’s Covid update to MSPs in Holyrood that while PCR tests are still advised for those who have symptoms, you will no longer have to confirm a positive lateral flow test result with a PCR test.
Instead, those testing positive on a lateral flow test will need to treat this result as confirmation that they have Covid-19 and self-isolate immediately.
This change to Scotland’s Covid testing requirements will come into effect from Thursday January 6, with Ms Sturgeon saying that this would help to strengthen the nation’s testing and contact tracing capacity in the wake of rising Omicron cases.
“With a variant as infectious as Omicron, the kind of protections that are still possible within our financial resources and without causing greater harm in other ways - while still very important at this stage - won’t control transmission to the same extent as these measures would have done with other less transmissible variants,” the First Minister said in Wednesday’s briefing.
She added: “Let me be clear at this stage, this does not, in my view, mean giving up on trying to control Covid completely - the impact of it on individual health and on our collective wellbeing is too significant for that.
"But it does mean seeking ways of doing so that are more proportionate, sustainable and less restrictive.”