Today, Thursday 24th February, the government has lifted all remaining legal restrictions to deal with the covid-19 pandemic.
This means that there is no longer a legal requirement to isolate after a positive test. Routine contact tracing has also ended, so close contacts of positive cases no longer need to isolate or test daily.
The key point to note is that while this is no longer a legal requirement, it is recommended that people isolate themselves for five full days after testing positive.
Similarly, wearing masks or face coverings in indoor spaces and public transport has already changed to advisory from compulsory.
Why the NHS has different requirements
Since the pandemic began, the NHS has had specific infection prevention and control (IPC) guidelines.
These were put in place and continue to be in place to reduce the chances of covid entering and spreading in healthcare settings.
Mandatory masks, social distancing, regular disinfection protect vulnerable patients, staff, and every other visitor to an NHS building.
We want to remind all patients that when you visit the practice, you will be asked to wear a mask or face covering when inside the building and observe social distancing. You may also be asked to wait in certain areas.
In order to be able to provide in-person appointments, as we have done since the pandemic began, we need to take steps to minimise the risk of spreading infection as much as possible.
If you are visiting the practice and have covid symptoms – please consider whether your appointment could be delayed until you are feeling better, or to take a lateral flow test before coming.
Please also be aware that the rules for NHS staff around self-isolation are also different from the general public.
When a team member tests positive, they still must isolate until they record negative tests on consecutive days. Consequently, there may be an impact on staffing levels.
As self-isolation is no longer enforceable by law, the associated support payments of £500 available to those on low incomes have also now stopped.
Mass testing will remain free and available to everyone until the end of March 2022.
From 1st April, testing will focus on the most clinically vulnerable and will not be available free of charge to the general public.
Visit the NHS website for full information.