Reduction in self-isolation

Changes to public health requirements for close contacts and overseas arrivals.

Anyone required to self-isolate, due to contact with someone who has had a positive test for coronavirus (COVID-19), or as a result of quarantine rules on arrival from overseas will need to do so for 10 days following updated clinical advice.

Currently the self-isolation period for international travellers and for contacts of positive cases in Scotland is 14 days but this is changing from next Monday (14 December 2020).

Following a review of the latest evidence and discussions between the 4 UK Chief Medical Officers they are now confident that the self-isolation period can be reduced to 10 days.

The change, taking effect from Monday, applies as follows:

  • Someone who, from 14 December, has been contacted through Test and Protect – including by the scot app – or their Local Health Board and have been notified to self-isolate, should do so for 10 days.
  • Someone who, from 14 December, is required to quarantine following arrival into Scotland from overseas, should self-isolate for a period of 10 days.
  • Someone who was previously instructed to self-isolate will, from 14 December, be able to stop self-isolating ten days from when they were first notified to do so.
  • Close contacts include members of the same household who test positive for COVID-19 – from 14 December, they will now only need to isolate for 10 days, rather than 14.

Cabinet Secretary for Health Jeane Freeman said:

“Self-isolation, both for contacts identified by Test and Protect and through the foreign travel quarantine requirements, is critical to protecting people and reducing the spread of COVID-19.

“Following their review of the latest evidence and having considered the joint recommendation of UK CMOs from all four nations, we have agreed to reduce the required isolation period from 14 to 10 days.

“While self-isolation may be for a shorter period, it remains vital that everyone who is required to do so remains at their home or other named address for this time. Only by doing this can we break the chain of transmission of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.”

In their joint statement, the four UK CMOs said:

“Self-isolation is essential to reducing the spread of COVID as it breaks the chains of transmission.

“After reviewing the evidence, we are now confident that we can reduce the number of days that contacts self-isolate from 14 days to 10 days. People who return from countries which are not on the travel corridor list should also self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days.

“People who test positive should continue to self-isolate for 10 days from onset of symptoms or 10 days from point of taking a positive test if asymptomatic. We urge everyone to self-isolate when appropriate, it will save lives.”


The Scottish Government website contains further information on how contact tracing works and on international travel and quarantine requirements.

Test and Protect, Scotland’s approach to implementing the 'test, trace, isolate, support strategy', is a public health measure designed to break chains of transmission of COVID-19 in the community.  As part of this someone is asked to self-isolate at home for 10 days if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or they have tested positive for it.  If a person lives with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive they are now asked to self-isolate at home for 10 days.

Anyone who is a returning traveller or who has been identified as a contact of a case and is on day 11, 12, 13 or 14 of an existing 14 day isolation period on Monday 14th December, can end their isolation on Monday 14th December.

 Anyone who is a returning traveller or who has been identified as a contact of a case and has not yet completed 10 days of isolation on Monday 14th must complete 10 days and can come out of isolation after the 10 days i.e. on day 11.

The change from 14 to 10 days will also apply in England and Northern Ireland from Monday 14 December.  It already applies in Wales.


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