The length of time people have to self-isolate has been cut to seven days for those who are double-vaccinated in a bid to reduce the impact on businesses from staff shortages.

Down from the previous 10 days, the new rules will allow those who test positive to exit isolation as long as they produce two negative lateral flow test results, taken 24 hours apart on day six and seven of their quarantine period, the UK Health Security Agency said today (22 December).

The 10-day rule still applies to those who are unvaccinated.

This is in contrast to the previous advice to not carry out lateral flow or PCR tests within 90 days of testing positive as there is a chance of a false positive result.

It is understood that health secretary Sajid Javid had been pushing hard for the change.

He said the guidance “will help break chains of transmission and minimise the impact on lives and livelihoods”, noting that Omicron’s rapid spread “may pose a risk to running our critical public services during winter”, the FT reported.

The news comes as Boris Johnson ruled out further Covid restrictions this side of Christmas.