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Northern Ireland Self Isolating Rules Ending From Monday 16 August 2021

Yesterday the Northern Ireland Executive announced a number of further relaxations with one of the most noteworthy being around self-isolation. The relaxations also permit the return of conferences and exhibitions and extend the numbers allowed at outdoor domestic settings.

The link to the full statement is HERE and we have summarised the main changes in this note.


With effect from Monday 16 August 2021, persons who are fully vaccinated and identified as a close contact of a Covid case will no longer have to self-isolate 10 days. Those persons who had already started isolating before 16 August, can also stop on that date provided the person is fully vaccinated.

Close contacts will be advised to take a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) Covid Test on Day 2 and Day 8. If they test positive, they must self-isolate, even if they do not have symptoms of the disease.

This will be welcomed by businesses in all sectors that are having difficulties with staffing levels due to self-isolation.

For businesses that employing those aged under 18 (such as apprentices) the rules are different. As they are not fully vaccinated, if they are identified as a close contact they should self-isolate and book a PCR test:

  • If PCR test is positive, they need to isolate for ten days.
  • If PCR test is negative, they can end self-isolation.

The Department of Health has published some FAQs explaining these rules in some more detail. The questions cover:

  • What does fully vaccinated mean?
  • When does the 10-day self-isolation period begin?
  • What about children who are close contacts of a person who tests positive?
  • If I have started self-isolation before August 16, do I still need to complete?
  • What do the rapid lateral flow tests fit into this?
  • If you are fully vaccinated, can you forget about COVID precautions?

Working from Home

Whilst Ministers discussed the removal of the guidance around working from home, we understand that no decision has been taken yet.

Other Changes

The requirement to maintain social distancing on public transport will be lifted allowing more persons to use transport.

Conference centres can reopen allowing conferences and exhibitions to resume.

No Change

The Executive has maintained wearing of face masks and other social distancing rules which is understood will be reviewed again in September 2021.