The number of days that a person must self-isolate for after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 could be reduced.
Currently, the quarantine period for people who have been in contact with those infected with coronavirus must isolate for 14 days.
This is different to the timeframe of 10 days if you have symptoms of coronavirus and tested positive, had an unclear result or did not have a test.
But as frustrations have increased with regards to the government’s track-and-trace system, it looks as if the 14-day isolation period could be reduced to seven days.
Here’s everything you need to know about whether or not the quarantine period really could be reduced, and what difference it will make.
What are the rules regarding self-isolation now?
At the moment, those who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 must stay at home for 14 days.
This means that you must do this if have been contacted by track-and-trace, by the NHS app, or if you live in the same household as someone with Covid-19.
If you develop symptoms during this time, and you receive a positive result after taking a test for coronavirus, you must follow the same advice for people with Covid-19 to stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms started, regardless of where you are in your 14-day period.
If you are quarantining, you must not leave your home. You cannot go out to work or school or visit public areas. You should not go shopping. If you require help buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, you should ask friends or relatives or order a delivery.
In England, you must only exercise within your home or garden. You cannot leave your home to walk your dog. You will need to ask friends or relatives to help you with this.
Why do people think that the quarantine period could be reduced?
As criticism of the government’s track-and-trace system has increased, there have been calls for the isolation period to be reduced from 14 days to either 10 or seven days.
Writing in the Telegraph on Saturday, Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin said a "vacuum of leadership in Test and Trace" was having an adverse effect on compliance.
Meanwhile, Professor Sir Ian Diamond, a member of the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that there was "work going on" to look at reducing the length of the quarantine period and "certainly it has been discussed at various times".
Additionally, research by King's College London suggests that just 10.9 per cent of those told to self-isolate do in fact stay at home for the full quarantine period.
Medical experts have also called for the quarantine period to be reduced in order to boost compliance.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain on Monday, Dr Hilary Jones cited the King’s College London research as a warning that the current system isn’t working.
“That means it is completely insufficient to halt the spread of the virus,” he said of the current 14-day isolation period. It completely negates it. To stop the spread of the virus, you have to self-isolate properly."
“That means it is completely insufficient to halt the spread of the virus,” he said of the current 14-day isolation period.It completely negates it. To stop the spread of the virus, you have to self-isolate properly."
"If they developed symptoms, they would then have to be self-isolating for longer. So if it helps people comply, it's a good idea. If it works better than the current situation, it would be worth it."
What would it take for the quarantine period to be reduced?
Health secretary Matt Hancock has said that the decision to reduce the quarantine period will be "entirely led by the clinical science".
Speaking to Sky News, he said: "It's always under review. You might remember that a couple of months ago we increased the amount of time that people who have a positive test have to isolate from seven days to 10 days. That's a clinical decision."
Mr Hancock added that it isn’t a compliance issue, citing France’s decision to reduce the amount of time people have to isolate from 14 days to seven, which was based on scientific evidence.
It's about the overall clinical judgment of what time is required for isolation.
"Obviously I'd rather have isolation as short as is reasonably possible because of the impact it has on people's lives, but it must be safe," he added.
In short, the government has said that unless the scientific evidence suggests it is safe and feasible, the quarantine period will remain at 14 days.