From 16 August, double-jabbed people who have come into contact with a coronavirus case will no longer need to shut themselves away for the 10-day isolation period, as the government continues efforts to strip away England’s COVID restrictions.
They will be advised to take a coronavirus test, but that will not be compulsory.
Announcing the move on Wednesday, health secretary Sajid Javid said: “Step by step, jab by jab, we are replacing the temporary protection of the restrictions with the long-term protection of the vaccine so we can restore the freedoms which we cherish and the experiences which mean so much for us all.”
The announcement follows Boris Johnson’s decision to tear up England’s coronavirus regulations at Step 4 of the road map, expected on 19 July.
He added: “This new approach means that we can manage the virus in a way that is proportionate to the pandemic while maintaining the freedoms that are so important to us all.”
Watch: Double-vaccinated Brits won't have to isolate any more
Javid suggested cases could rise to more than 100,000 a day in the summer once the rules are removed.
He told MPs: “I understand that some people are cautious about the idea of easing restrictions, but we must balance the risks – the risks of a virus that has diminished but not defeated, against the risks of keeping these restrictions and the health, social and economic hardship that we know they bring.”
But shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said people with two doses of the vaccine could still contract and transmit coronavirus, adding that the protective wall was “only half-built”.
He said: "Sadly, being double-jabbed means you are still a risk to others. And yet he [Javid] is releasing controls on transmissions at a time when infections are rising and hospitalisations will rise as well."
The self-isolation rules will also be eased for the under-18s, while the “bubble” system in schools will be scrapped following concerns about large groups of children being forced to miss out on education if cases were detected.
Meanwhile, transport secretary Grant Shapps will update MPs later this week on how to remove the need for fully vaccinated arrivals to isolate when they return from an amber list country.
More than 79 million people have now received a first dose of the vaccine, with almost 34 million fully vaccinated.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the vaccine rollout and attempts to suppress coronavirus infection rates must go “hell for leather” in order to prevent a significant increase in long COVID.
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