Omicron variant of coronavirus is highly contagious. The surge in cases is putting pressure on test centres and there were worries the need to quarantine could impact too severely on the economy with too few workers being available to carry out necessary jobs.
Employers had been seeking a relaxation of testing and quarantine requirements, while scientists warned relaxing the rules would not be a good idea.
People who encounter a high-risk contact and didn’t get their jabs during the past five months will still need to quarantine for ten days. People may exit quarantine on Day 4 if they self-test negative every day using a lateral flow test. No PCR test will be required.
The unvaccinated must quarantine for ten days after a high-risk contact and may only leave quarantine and self-test every day from Day 7 onwards.
People who test positive for coronavirus must self-isolate for seven days – down from ten – and may leave quarantine on Day 7 if they have no symptoms and self-test negative using a lateral flow test.
PCR tests will no longer be required in connection with quarantine (for people with high-risk contacts) or to leave isolation (for those that test positive). PCR tests will only be used to determine cases of the infection.
The measure should ease pressure on test centres.