It has been announced that people with COVID-19 in England can stop self-isolating up to three days early if they test negative twice.
The self-isolation period will be cut from 10 days to seven for those who can produce negative Lateral Flow Test results on both day six and their final day of quarantine, and when making the announcement, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the move has been informed by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), and is being taken to “minimise disruption” caused by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
He did add that those leaving quarantine after day seven should “continue to remain cautious”.
Under the previous rule, people had to self-isolate for 10 full days if they tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).
The change to the required self-isolation period comes amid a spike in cases caused by the new variant – which is believed to have created staff shortages for businesses, health services – including NHS, social care, and other frontline services – and rail services.
The health secretary said the move to shorten the self-isolation period was “a very sensible, balanced and proportionate step” to take.
The new self-isolation guidance being introduced can be used by people who are isolating after testing positive for COVID, regardless of their vaccination status – but, as is currently the case, those who are not double jabbed will still have to isolate for the full 10 days if they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive.
Health officials have said that People should not end their isolation early if they are still experiencing symptoms.
On top of that, just as the Health Secretary mentioned, health officials are strongly advising people ending their isolation period on day seven to limit contact with vulnerable people, not to visit crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, and to work from home if they can.
Announcing the rule change, Mr Javid said: “We want to reduce the disruption to peoples everyday lives caused by the pandemic so today we will be cutting the self-isolation period from 10 days to seven days for those people that take a lateral flow on day six and day seven and the result of both those tests are negative.
“This decision has been informed by the advice of our clinicians at the UKHSA who have looked at this very carefully and they are very comfortable that the protection provided by making this change – so that people can leave isolation after day seven as long as they have taken these two lateral flow tests and the results are negative – that the protection it provides is very similar to 10 days of isolation without tests.
“Of course, anyone who leaves after day seven under this new procedure should continue to remain cautious.”
The changes to this self-isolation come after the isolation period was reduced from 14 days to 10 this time last year as the Alpha variant spread rapidly through parts of the UK.
Mandatory isolation was dropped for vaccinated close contacts of a positive case during the Delta wave this year.
But that has now been replaced with daily Lateral Flow Testing.
Currently, the government is under increasing pressure from scientists to make a decision on further restrictions to slow the spread of Omicron – but last night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed he will not introduce any further COVID restrictions in England before Christmas.
He did, however, warn that the situation remains “finely balanced” ahead of the New Year.
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Tim Martin is blaming ‘people drinking at home’ for UK Wetherspoons closures
It’s no secret that times are hard for hospitality right now, with pubs and restaurants shutting left, right and centre – but when UK pub giant Wetherspoons starts closing its doors you have to wonder if anyone can survive in this climate.
In September last year, the budget pub chain began listing sites for sale with 32 boozers going up as part of what it described as a “commercial decision”.
Now, it has listed even more – and arch-Brexiteer Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin is apparently blaming people ‘drinking at home’ for the closures.
After the chain suffered a £30 million pound loss, CEO Tim Martin told PA news agency that people ‘have got into the habit of staying in’ ever since Covid and that that was why sales were down on 2019.
He also blamed lockdown restrictions brought in to stop the spread of Covid during the heigh of the pandemic for the pub’s losses,
He said: “The aftermath of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions have been far more difficult than anyone thought.
“That is the picture for the whole pub and restaurant industry. People thought that after lockdown there would be a boom in people suffering from cabin fever but, instead, it has almost become the opposite situation as people have got into the habit of staying in.
“That’s the big thing that means sales are down on 2019. Things are improving now but it’s slow.”
The pub sales are being handled by CBRE and Savills. Toby Hall, senior director at CBRE, said: “The excellent mix of locations in this portfolio is rarely seen in the market.
“With more than half the portfolio located in London and the South East and other strong locations in the South West, Midlands and North we believe the pubs represent an excellent opportunity for existing pub operators and new entrants.”
Which JD Wetherspoon pubs are set for closure?
Pubs which have been sold:
Harvest Moon, Orpington
Alexander Bain, Wick
Chapel an Gansblydhen, Bodmin
Moon on the Square, Basildon
Coal Orchard, Taunton
Running Horse, Airside Doncaster Airport
Wild Rose, Bootle
Edmund Halley, Lee Green
The Willow Grove, Southport
Postal Order, Worcester
North and South Wales Bank, Wrexham
Pubs still up for sale:
The Butlers Bell, Stafford
Worlds Inn, Romford
Silkstone Inn, Barnsley
Wrong ‘Un, Bexleyheath
The Percy Shaw, Halifax
Jolly Sailor, Hanham
The Alfred Herring, Palmers Green
The Moon & Bell, Loughborough
The Widow Frost, Mansfield
Foxley Hatch, Purley
The Rising Sun, Redditch
Admiral Sir Lucius Curtis, Southampton
The Colombia Press, Watford
The Malthouse, Willenhall
The John Masefield, New Ferry
The Crosse Keys, Peebles
Lord Arthur Lee, Fareham
The Saltoun Inn, Fraserburgh
General Sir Redvers Buller, Crediton
Plough & Harrow, Hammersmith
Thomas Leaper, Derby
Tollgate, Turnpike Lane
Millers Well, East Ham
Hudson Bay, Forest Gate
The Billiard Hall, West Bromwich
Capitol, Forest Hill
The Bankers Draft, Eltham
Moon on the Hill, Harrow
The Bank House, Cheltenham
Last Post, Loughton
Government refuses to deny reports HS2 may not run from Manchester to central London
The UK government is refusing to deny recent reports that HS2 may not run from Manchester directly through to central London.
The Sun reported this week that HS2 is currently in “shambles” and that rising inflation and construction costs could mean that trains may terminate in the suburbs of west London instead of London Euston, as has always been planned – with the paper saying transport bosses were considering pushing back the service’s Euston terminus to 2038, or even scrapping it all together.
The paper reported that trains would be instead stopping at a new hub at Old Oak Common in west London’s suburbs, which is about 8km (five miles) away from Euston.
Passengers would then have to finish their journeys into central London by using the Elizabeth Line.
On top of all of this, the paper also reported that anywhere between a two to five-year delay to the entire project is also being considered by the government, however ministers are refusing to confirm or deny any of the reports.
A statement provided by a Department for Transport (DfT) spokesperson reads: “The Government remains committed to delivering HS2 to Manchester, as confirmed in the autumn statement, and as well as supporting tens of thousands of jobs, the project will connect regions across the UK, improve capacity on our railways and provide a greener option of travel.”
HS2, which has the full name High Speed 2, was originally intended to connect London with Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds.
The leg to Leeds has since been scrapped in November 2021, but work on the first phase of the project between London and Birmingham is now well under way, with a part of the line due to open by 2033, despite the fact the project has faced delays and mounting concerns over the exact route, and its potential environmental impact.
While a budget of £55.7 billion for the whole of HS2 was set in 2015, this was made before the Leeds leg was cancelled, and the estimated cost of HS2 was therefore set between £72 billion and £98 billion at 2019 prices.
A report published last October found it was unlikely that the £40.3 billion target for the first section of the line would be met.