Press release

UK Chief Medical Officers' statement on the self-isolation period: 11 December 2020

A change to the self-isolation period from 14 to 10 days has been announced.

This change will apply in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland from 00:01am on Monday 14 December. It already applies in Wales.

Self-isolation is essential to reducing the spread of COVID as it breaks the chains of transmission.

After reviewing the evidence, we are now confident that we can reduce the number of days that contacts self-isolate from 14 days to 10 days.

People who return from countries which are not on the travel corridor list should also self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days.

People who test positive should continue to self-isolate for 10 days from onset of symptoms or 10 days from point of taking a positive test if asymptomatic.

We urge everyone to self-isolate when appropriate, it will save lives.

Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty

Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, Dr Michael McBride

Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Dr Gregor Smith

Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton

Background information

On Monday 14 December, the change to the isolation period for contacts will apply to all those who are currently self-isolating including those who commenced self-isolation before Monday.

Self-isolation periods will begin on the day after exposure, a test or the start of symptoms.

The NHS Test and Trace service will tell people to self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days from Monday.

The passenger locator form will be updated from Monday.

Due to the time taken to test technical changes and release updates through the app store, the NHS COVID-19 app will tell close contacts to isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days from Thursday 17 December.

In England, if you receive a notification from the NHS COVID-19 app before 17 December to isolate because you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive:

  • if you have also been contacted by NHS Test and Trace you must follow isolation guidance provided by contact tracers
  • if you have been advised to isolate by the app (and not by NHS Test and Trace) then you can leave isolation when your isolation countdown timer says 3 days
Published 11 December 2020