Do you have to self-isolate? Will self-isolation end in Scotland - and Covid rules for fully vaccinated explained
Scotland’s proposed “Freedom Day” is edging closer, as the government gradually eases Covid rules.
From 9 August, it is hoped that all remaining legal restrictions will be removed in the country, with life returning to something akin to normal.
Before that, some measures will be lifted on Monday 19 July when the country moves down to the lowest level of restrictions, Level 0.
But some rules are set to remain in Scotland even after those dates, including mandatory mask-wearing in some settings.
Will that include self-isolating if a close contact tests positive for the virus?
Here’s what we know so far.
What are the current self-isolation rules?
Those who develop official Covid symptoms - a new, continuous cough, a fever, or loss of or change in taste or smell - need to isolate straight away and book a test.
People who live in the same house as someone with symptoms also need to isolate immediately.
The rules are the same for those who have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for the virus.
NHS contact tracers will call to tell you if you’re a close contact, or you will be notified via the Protect Scotland app.
In that case, you need to self-isolate for 10 days, even if your test comes back negative.
The Scottish Government says that specific duration is because, if you have contracted the virus, it could take some time for it to develop into illness, otherwise known as the “incubation period”.
However, if you’re a close contact of a confirmed cause but you don’t have symptoms, other members of your household won’t usually need to self-isolate alongside you.
The full rules for self-isolation can be found on the government’s website.
When can we stop self-isolating?
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced during her latest Covid announcement that the self isolation requirement is set to be scrapped for fully vaccinated adults in Scotland.
She revealed the rule change to MSPs at the same time as confirming that the country will move to Level 0 on 19 July.
But Scots will have to wait a little longer for self-isolation rules to change, as the new policy is not set to come in until “Freedom Day” on 9 August.
Ms Sturgeon said, from then, those who come into contact with a positive case will not need to isolate if they have had two vaccines, and return a negative PCR test.
At least two weeks must have passed since the second dose.
Self-isolation will also be removed for arrivals from amber list countries from Monday (19 July), if they have been double jabbed within a UK vaccine programme.
They must also take a PCR test on the second day after arrival.
These changes will not affect anyone testing positive for Covid, who will still need to self-isolate for 10 days.
While Ms Sturgeon said the country would move to Level 0 as planned on 19 July, the move to beyond that level on 9 August is still be be confirmed.
Furthermore, self-isolation requirements around school children are still under review, and Ms Sturgeon said an update will be given on this before the start of a new term.
What is happening in England?
The Scottish Government's decision came after the UK Government announced that from 16 August, those who have received both vaccine doses south of the border will no longer need to self-isolate.
New Health Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs on Tuesday 6 July that the change would also apply to anyone under the age of 18.
In a statement to the House of Commons, Mr Javid said: "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 is 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."
Instead of isolating, adults who have been in close contact with a positive case will be “advised” to take a PCR test immediately to make sure they haven't contracted the virus.
However, people who test positive will still have to self-isolate, regardless of whether they have been given the vaccine.
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