COVID-19: self-isolation requirement reduced

Optometrists may return to work after five days of self-isolation provided a series of conditions are met

woman looking out of the window

The AOP has published guidance for optometrists clarifying the implications of reduced self-isolation requirements for the profession.

The update follows refreshed advice from the UK Health Security Agency for staff in health and social care settings on isolation requirements following a positive COVID-19 test result.

Optical practice staff who test positive for COVID-19 through a PCR or lateral flow test must self-isolate for a minimum of five days.

The isolation period is counted from the day an individual’s symptoms started, or if they do not have symptoms, the day they received a positive COVID-19 test result.

Those who test positive with a lateral flow but do not have COVID-19 symptoms are only required to take a PCR test if certain conditions apply.

These include those who wish to claim Test and Trace support, people with specific health conditions that make them eligible for new COVID-19 treatments, those participating in a research programme, and those returning from another country.

Individuals can only return to work after five days of isolation if they have negative results to two lateral flow tests taken 24 hours apart.

The first lateral flow test can be taken on the fifth day of isolation. If the individual tests negative on the fifth day and the sixth day, they can return to work immediately following the second test.

Self-isolation may only be ended after five days if the staff member’s symptoms have resolved, or if their only symptoms are a cough or loss of smell which can last several weeks.

The staff member must take daily lateral flow tests for 10 days.

They should take each test as close as possible to the start time of their shift.