Explained: the new quarantine rules starting Monday
Reduction of quarantine period from 14 to 10 days for those with booster
With tens of thousands of people in isolation starting to impact business and essential services, the government had little option but to reduce quarantine periods, starting from January 3.
The new rules apply automatically from Monday, even for those who are currently quarantined. This means that if a person is already in quarantine when the new rules come into force, they can still benefit from the shorter isolation period.
What is the main change?
The most crucial change is the reduction of the quarantine period from 14 to 10 days for those infected with the virus. It is the first time this has been done since the start of the pandemic.
A person must be free of COVID-19 symptoms to be allowed out on the 10th day. The measure only applies to people who have received the booster jab.
Those living in the same household as an infected person may also exit quarantine after 10 days if they have had the booster. This only applies if the infected person has had the booster. If not, the entire household must quarantine for 14 days.
As with the initial doses, 14 days must pass before a person is considered to have taken the booster. Without it, individuals must isolate for the full 14 days.
What about contacts?
Here is where it gets slightly more complicated.
There are two types of contact: primary and secondary.
Primary contacts are those who have had direct contact with a person who has tested positive. Secondary contacts are those who meet primary contacts, such as members of the same household, for example.
For months, primary contacts who were fully vaccinated have been able to exit quarantine early if they test negative for the virus after the contact has taken place and again after a week. This will remain in place.
As has been the case in the past months, only those with a valid vaccine certificate can benefit from this measure.
From January 17, a certificate is deemed valid if an individual received the booster jab up to nine months before or a second dose up to three months before.
The change is in line with other measures coming into force on January 17, when the vaccine certificate will only be valid if either of those two conditions are met.
From January 3, any secondary contacts who have received a booster dose (and 14 days have passed since getting it) do not need to quarantine at all.
Will children have to quarantine for 14 days?
No. Since children are unable to take a booster dose just yet, they can also quarantine for 10 days as long as their parents have been given the booster and the minors are fully vaccinated.
What about the unvaccinated?
People who have not had any vaccine dose must quarantine for the full 14 days whenever they are positive or in contact with an infected individual.