Health Secretary Sajid Javid, 52, announced the change has been informed by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). The change to coronavirus self-isolation rules will only come into effect if people receive a negative result from lateral flow tests taken on days six and seven.
The Bromsgrove MP also said people exiting the self-isolation period should “continue to remain cautious”.
The change comes into place after there had been growing concerns the Omicron variant could cause chronic work shortages, including in the NHS.
Mr Javid said the decision would help “reduce the disruption to people’s everyday lives caused by the pandemic”.
Unveiling the rule change, he 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.
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“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 but we are also very clear that the very best way to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our community is to make sure you get boosted if you’re eligible.”
The news comes as Boris Johnson, 57, told Brits Christmas could go ahead as planned this year.
Speaking about the Government’s decision, the Prime Minister said: “We don’t think today that there is enough evidence to justify any tougher measures before Christmas.
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“Naturally, we can’t rule out any further measures after Christmas – and we’re going to keep a constant eye on the data and we’ll do whatever it takes to protect public health.”
Mr Johnson added: “There is no doubt that Omicron continues to surge with a speed unlike anything we’ve seen before.
“The situation remains extremely difficult, but I also recognise that people have been waiting to hear whether their Christmas plans are going to be affected.
“In view of the continuing uncertainty about several things – the severity of omicron, uncertainty about the hospitalisation rate or the impact of the vaccine rollout or the boosters, we don’t think today that there is enough evidence to justify any tougher measures before Christmas.
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“We continue to monitor omicron very closely, and if the situation deteriorates we will be ready to take action if needed.
“What this means is that people can go ahead with their Christmas plans – but the situation remains finely balanced and I would urge everyone to exercise caution, to keep protecting yourselves and your loved ones, especially the vulnerable.
“And remember to keep following the guidance – wear a mask indoors when required to do so, keep fresh air circulating and take a test before you visit elderly or vulnerable relatives.”
The UK recorded a total of 90,629 coronavirus cases on December 21, making Tuesday the fifth consecutive day for Covid cases to exceed 80,000.
The latest update also indicates some 7,801 people are in hospital and 859 pandemic patients are on ventilation beds.