Published: 13:02, 13 January 2022
| Updated: 16:06, 13 January 2022
The self-isolation period for people with coronavirus in England is to be cut, it has been announced today.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said from Monday those with Covid19 will only need to spend five 'full' days in isolation providing that they can return two negative tests towards the end of their illness, enabling them to leave isolation on the start of day six.
The move, which follows similar policies introduced in countries like Greece and the United States, was announced in a statement to the House of Commons at lunchtime.
MPs were told that data from the UK Health Security Agency shows that around around two-thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by the end of day five, enabling health officials to relax its existing policy.
Currently patients with a positive Covid19 test must complete at least seven days of isolation but are then able to stop isolating if they return two negative lateral flow tests on days six and seven.
Sajid Javid said he hopes the move will "maximise activity in the economy and education" while also minimising the risk of infection from people leaving isolation.
Confirmation that people in England will soon be able to spend less time self-isolating is the second major announcement relating to Covid rule changes to emerge today.
Earlier this morning France announced that it would be opening its borders from tomorrow to all fully vaccinated UK travellers.
People wanting to travel to the country from the UK will no longer need to prove that their journey is essential from Friday morning.
Holidaymakers have been banned from entering the country since the middle of December when France closed its border to all non-essential travel from the UK over fears about the spread of the highly-contagious Omicron variant.
The move forced thousands of travellers to cancel Christmas holidays and trips to visit family as only those with a 'compelling' reason were permitted to cross the Channel and enter the country.
But the month-long ban is now being lifted for fully vaccinated travellers providing that they can provide proof of their vaccinations alongside the results of a negative Covid19 test taken in the previous day.
For crossing the Channel fully-vaccinated means being double-jabbed, and is set to apply to all travellers aged 12 and over. Further details on how the rules are likely to be applied to children are expected to be released soon.
The move is expected to be a major boost for all cross-Channel operators alongside travel firms keen to make the most of the winter ski season and the upcoming February half term break. Jet2 is among those to have announced plans to restart its ski flights to snow-covered regions in a week's time - from January 22.
All fully-jabbed passengers wishing to enter France from tomorrow will require a negative result from either a PCR coronavirus test or a rapid lateral flow which has been taken no more than 24 hours before travel. This must be using a private Covid19 provider and not using the results of an NHS administered test.
No rules are being changed for unvaccinated travellers who must still have a valid reason for entering France as per December's rule change.
If they do meet the requirement for entry they too will need to provide a negative coronavirus test prior to travel as well as isolating on arrival, followed by a further negative test to be released from quarantine.
Announcing the move to reopen its borders to more travellers, the French government says it will publish its decree on Friday morning when more information is expected to be available and less-restricted travel into the country will then start.
French minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said: “The decree will be published tomorrow morning, with immediate entry into force.”