Unions and business leaders who have been hit by crippling staff shortages have welcomed the Government’s decision to today cut the number of self-isolation days down to five.
Sajid Javid declared that the self-isolation period is being cut to five full days in a bid to ease the pressure of staff absences from Omicron.
The Health Secretary confirmed the length of quarantine for positive cases is being reduced from the current seven days – which permits people to escape on the seventh day.
Instead, as of Monday people in England will be free on the sixth day – as long as they test negative on a lateral flow on days five and six.
The move came after NHS leaders, businesses and ministers joined the push for five full days, the timescale used in other countries including the US.
But government scientists had warned it could fuel the outbreak significantly, as people would be more likely to be infectious when they return to workplaces.
The news to cut the self-isolation period to five days was hailed by health service bosses as a ‘pragmatic move’ and firms as a ‘great relief’ after weeks of struggling to fill gaps in the workforce due to soaring infections.
It comes as economists warned that staff shortages stemming from Covid-19 self-isolation requirements could cost the UK’s economy around £35billion in just January and February.
Experts at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) have predicted there will be an ‘economic cost’ to the country when the absenteeism rate hits the government’s assumptions of 25 per cent.
The predicted loss for those two months would be equivalent to 8.8 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).