Fully vaccinated people and children who have been in contact with someone infected with coronavirus will not have to self-isolate from August 16, the health secretary announced today.
Sajid Javid confirmed the move as he told MPs that Britain would soon be able to take a “risk-based approach” that recognised the protection offered by jabs.
Meanwhile, the education secretary confirmed that the school bubble system will be scrapped in England as part of the next stage of lockdown easing currently scheduled for July 19.
It means that pupils will no longer have to quarantine for ten days if somebody tests positive within their “bubble”, often a class or year group.
Gavin Williamson announced the move after the system was criticised by parents and teachers concerned that children were having to miss school unnecessarily.
Javid set out his plans to ease rules for the fully vaccinated and under-18s this afternoon, saying: “From August 16, 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 August 16, they’ll need to wait two weeks, after which their second jab can take effect and give them these new freedoms.”
He added: “Anyone under the age of 18 who is a close contact of a positive case will no longer have to self-isolate. Instead they will be given advice about whether they should get tested, dependent on their age, and will need to self-isolate only if they test positive.”
The policy is part of ministers’ plan to replace virus restrictions with a focus on personal responsibility.
Last month it was revealed that ministers wanted to free people who had had both jabs from the requirement to stay at home for ten days if they were named as a contact of someone who had tested positive.
Official estimates suggest that infections will increase by as much as 26 per cent under the plans but the government is likely to accept the risk to avoid further disruption to businesses, schools and public services.
The change will bring England into line with other countries such as the US and Germany.
Meanwhile, Downing Street said that pubs in England would be permitted to open until 11.15pm on Sunday, July 11 in case the Euro 2020 football final ends up going into extra time and penalties.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “The entire nation has been gripped by the Euros and this will ensure people can come together to enjoy the final in pubs, should they wish to do so.”