From Monday 16 August, double vaccinated adults in England, or those who meet one of four exemption criteria, will no longer be legally required to self-isolate if they are a close contact of a positive case of COVID-19.
The exemption will also be extended to those under 18 to reduce disruption to schools and colleges when they return in September.
Other criteria for self-isolation exemption includes those who have, or are currently, taking part in a Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial and those who have not been vaccinated for medical reasons (evidence must be provided).
Close contacts who are currently isolating will also be free to stop isolating from the 16 August.
Cllr Christine Bannon, Cabinet Member for Health, said: “The changes to self-isolation rules are being very warmly received by those who will be exempt. However, I would urge caution as we move forward.
“The pandemic is not over and cases in Knowsley remain high. Being double vaccinated reduces your chances of getting seriously ill from the virus but does not prevent you from catching or transmitting the virus.
“It is only by breaking the chain of transmission that we can reduce the number of cases and protect our community and so I urge all residents to continue to test regularly and ensure they get a PCR if contacted by Track and Trace.”
How it will work
All contacts of a positive COVID-19 case will be contacted by Track and Trace and their vaccination status will be verified.
Individuals identified as close contacts but exempt from isolation will continue to be advised to take a PCR test (www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or ring 119), to detect the virus and variants of concern. Anyone who tests positive following the PCR test will still be legally required to self-isolate, irrespective of their vaccination status.
Vaccination reduces but does not eliminate the risk of catching and transmitting coronavirus. Individuals who are a close contact of a positive case, but not self-isolating are urged to limit contact with those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, take part in regular testing, wear a face covering in enclosed places and practice social distancing.
Those experiencing symptoms of the virus (high temperature, new or persistent cough or a loss of taste or smell), should still stay at home and book a test through www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or ring 119.
The NHS COVID-19 app will also be updated in line with the new guidance to ensure that it gives people the most accurate information regarding isolation.
How to get vaccinated
Anyone who is not yet vaccinated can access their jab at a number of locations across the city region. The vaccine offers you the best protection from the virus. The vaccine bus is also currently touring around Knowsley with upcoming dates in Kirkby, Halewood, Page Moss and Stockbridge Village. Visit Knowsley News to find out more.
Knowsley Council is urging all residents to continue to undertake regular testing for COVID-19, even if they have been vaccinated. Residents can access rapid asymptomatic testing via home kits or through the assisted sites in Huyton, Kirkby, Halewood and Prescot. More information is available on Knowsley News.
Impact on Health and Social Care staff
Most double vaccinated health and social care staff who are close contacts of cases will be able to routinely return to work, provided they have had a negative PCR test. Daily lateral flow / rapid tests will need to be taken for 10 days as a precaution.
Staff working with clinically extremely vulnerable patients or service users will need a risk assessment to be carried out by a designated person in the workplace before they return to work.