New Covid rules Birmingham: Do I still have to self-isolate? What else is changing?

The PM has set out his ‘living with Covid’ strategy as England prepares to move more coronavirus restrictions with cases falling across the country

Boris Johnson presented his ‘living with Covid’ strategy to MPs on Monday (21 February), after a last-minute delay to ministers signing off on the proposals.

The rules changes will take effect in England over the coming days and weeks as remaining restrictions are eased.

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It comes as the number of coronavirus cases in Birmingham increased by 943 over the weekend (19 and 20 February), official figures show.

Four deaths were recorded in Birmingham as a total of 315,224 cases had been confirmed in the city when the UK coronavirus daily dashboard was updated on February 21 (Monday) - up from 314,281 on Friday.

The cumulative rate of infection in Birmingham, which covers the whole pandemic, stands at 27,639 cases per 100,000 people, which is lower than the England average of 28,096.

The UK’s daily infections have consistently fallen for almost three weeks and are currently at 42,000 a day, with the Prime Minister now setting out his plan for ending the final legal Covid restrictions in England, which will see self-isolation and free testing axed.

Here’s what you need to know about the new Covid rules.

Special SSP rules for Covid were brought in to keep sick people at home at the start of the pandemic (image: Getty Images)

Self-isolation to end

From Thursday 24 February, it will no longer be a legal requirement to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid.

However, the official public health advice will remain that people who have coronavirus should stay at home for five days.

This advice applies to both adults and children, but crucially, the guidance will not be enforced by law. As such, people will not face a fine for leaving isolation.

The government will also no longer ask vaccinated contacts, and those under 18, to test for seven days, and will remove the legal requirement for contacts who are not vaccinated to self-isolate.

There will also be an end to contact tracing.

Covid tests

For now, free Covid tests will continue to be available, but this will change at the beginning of April.

Mr Johnson has said that provision of free tests cannot continue at their current rate due to the cost of £2 billion per month.

As such, free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing will end for the general public from 1 April.

Remaining symptomatic testing will be focused on the most vulnerable, with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) set to determine the details.

People over the age of 80 and the immunosuppressed are expected to be among those who will still have access to free tests.

A degree of asymptomatic testing will also be maintained in the most risky settings, such as in social care.

From 24 February, the government is planning to end self-isolation payments and some of the practical support that accompanies them.

Under current rules, people in England on low incomes can claim £500 in financial support if they are forced to isolate after testing positive for Covid or coming into contact with someone with the virus.

This provision will come to an end on Thursday.

What are travel companies in the West Midlands saying?

A spokesman for the West Midlands Railway said the company is encouraging any passenger who tests positive to follow the advice to stay home.

A West Midlands Railway spokesman, said: “Throughout the pandemic we have encouraged our passengers to follow the public health advice and guidance set out by the Government.

“Although self-isolating after a positive Covid-19 test will soon not be a legal requirement, we continue to encourage any passenger who tests positive to follow the Government advice to stay home and avoid contact with others.”

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