SNP ministers are considering making changes to self-isolation rules after the UK Government announced children and adults who have received both doses of the Covid vaccine will not need to quarantine for 10 days after coming into contact with the virus.

Scotland’s Education Secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville, confirmed her Government was “looking very seriously about whether we can make changes to the self-isolation measures that are in place for children and young people” after the summer holidays.

In England, children who are close contacts of a positive Covid-19 case will be advised about whether they should get tested depending on their age and only need to self-isolate if they test positive from August 16. Ms Somerville said that proposals was “being looked at very closely”.

Under the current rules in Scotland, close contacts of someone confirmed as having Covid-19 are required to isolate at home for 10 days.

The Scottish Conservatives said axing the need to self-isolate or school pupils would be "an extremely welcome step forward" but called for any new rules to be clearly communicated before the new term.

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But concerns have been raised about the impact this has had on youngsters’ education, with whole classes having had to be sent home after just one positive case.

Ms Somerville told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that at the end of the school term only a very small number of the children who were off school were confirmed as having Covid.

She said: “At the end of the school term, the absence rate within schools was around about 4% but only 3% of that number actually had Covid, the majority of the rest of the children that were off school were self isolating.

“And that, I think, shows why the Scottish Government is looking very seriously about whether we can make changes to the self-isolation measures that are in place for children and young people as we move into the next academic year.”

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But the Education Secretary stressed this “will, of course, be based on clinical advice and guidance”, with any changes having first to go through the Scottish Government’s education recovery group, which has members who represent both teachers and parents.

Ms Somerville went on to confirm changes to the isolation requirements for those who have received two doses of the Covid vaccine were “being actively reviewed as we look at our vaccination programme”.

It comes as after bosses at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, which is currently under “code black status” because of Covid pressures, explained part of the problem was caused by the large number of staff having to self-isolate, with this, in turn, placing pressure on staffing levels.

The hospital, the largest in the Highlands, was forced to cancel all non-urgent elective surgery after reaching capacity.

With England next month moving to a system where the double-vaccinated will be asked to test if they come into contact with someone with the virus, and only isolate if they themselves are confirmed with the virus, Ms Somerville said: “This is one option that is already being looked at, it is being looked at very closely.”

Such a change would “benefit different parts of the population, different sectors of the economy,” the Education Secretary stressed.

But she added: “We must look at the evidence, we must look to see whether that is the right thing to do at this point of the virus, because the virus is very much still here.

“We absolutely have to balance protecting the unvaccinated part of the population, which we still have, from harm, and maintaining proportionate public health measures.”


Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary, Oliver Mundell, said: “The SNP Government have failed our children and young people throughout the pandemic.

“The current system in place is unsustainable and cannot continue in the new school term.

“Pupils have already suffered so much disruption to their learning as a result of Covid. While teachers and young people are enjoying a well-earned summer break, SNP ministers should be urgently using this time to ensure that entire classes do not have to self-isolate where the risk of onward transmission is low."

He added: “As we look to end legal restrictions for people and businesses ahead of schools returning in August, it is imperative that safe and robust measures are put in place by SNP ministers in our schools to guarantee pupils will be able to learn in our classrooms.

“The welfare of our school pupils must be a top priority as we look ahead to returning to normality. Ensuring an end to the current self-isolation rules is communicated well in advance of pupils returning would be an extremely welcome step forward from SNP ministers.”