Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – exemption of fully vaccinated social care and care home staff from isolation: information for providers

Published: 26 Jul 2021
Last updated: 7 Sep 2021 - see all updates

Information about the removal of the need for fully vaccinated social care and care home staff to self-isolate in exceptional circumstances.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – exemption of fully vaccinated social care and care home staff from isolation: information for providers
When the policy applies

When the policy applies

The policy will apply when a social care or care home staff member is a close contact of someone who tests positive for Covid. This policy also applies when the close contact is an immediate household contact (someone living with the social care or care home worker).

Social care and care home services no longer need to demonstrate that they are in an extremis position before asking staff to return to work. Health and Social Care Partnerships also no longer need to approve staff returning to work. Responsibility for asking staff to return to work and ensuring that the guidance is implemented lies with the individual social care employer.

Staff who meet the Public Health Scotland conditions outlined below can return to work. These mirror the conditions for those in the general population with the exception of daily LFD testing. Daily testing is an additional clinical safeguard for health and social care workers.

  • the staff member is fully vaccinated for at least 14 days prior to exposure
  • the staff member has had a negative PCR test result prior to returning to work
  • in line with testing advice to the general population staff members, will be not need to undertake a PCR test before returning to work if they have returned a positive PCR test within the last 90 days. This is because following COVID-19 a person may have immunity and also potentially have fragments of the virus present but would not be infectious. Instead they should carry out an LFD test prior to returning to work and continue with LFD testing in line with the policy position.
  • if a staff member has recently returned a positive PCR or LFD test and is currently self-isolating as a result they should not return to work
  • the staff member performs a daily LFD test, records the results, and informs manager up to day 10 from Covid exposure
  • a member of staff will be required to have daily Lateral Flow Testing for 10 days following their last exposure. If the index case (contact) is a household member the daily LFD testing will begin from the date the household contact develops symptoms or when a positive test (LFD or PCR) is returned if asymptomatic.
  • they are symptom free, (Coronavirus (COVID-19): General advice | NHS inform) and currently not self-isolating due to having a recent COVID-19 positive test
  • staff members adhere to infection prevention and control appropriate to the setting in which they work
  • PPE should be worn in accordance with the relevant Scottish COVID 19 IPC addenda (for information Care Home and Community Health and Care settings)
  • staff are advised to limit contact as part of the COVID mitigation advice that is also issued to the general population

During the ten day period after exposure to Covid, even when all the conditions are in place, staff should not return to work with people who would be deemed high risk clinically. This would include high clinical risk residents in care homes or people being cared for in the community who are on chemotherapy, immune-suppressants such as pre/immediately post-transplant, and those who have profound immune-deficiency and other high clinical risk patients who are not vaccinated. This list is not exhaustive and local line managers may determine other groups as fitting within the high clinical risk category. Staff can however return to work with those who would be deemed low risk clinically.

Where a staff member declines a PCR test, they should self-isolate for 10 days. Where a staff member declines daily LFD testing then they should not work in any clinical setting during the isolation exemption period. In this case, staff can be redeployed to another one (e.g. administrative, which does not involve any contact with clients).


Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

First published: 26 Jul 2021 Last updated: 7 Sep 2021 -