Rebecca Evans MS, Minister for Finance and Local Government
The First Minister announced on 30 July that all adults who have been fully-vaccinated will no longer have to self-isolate if they are identified as close contacts of someone with coronavirus. The changes to the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect (TTP) service for fully-vaccinated adults will come into effect from 7 August – the same day as Wales is expected to move to alert level zero, if the public health situation allows.
Children and young people under 18 will also be exempt from the need to self-isolate if they are also identified as close contacts of a positive case. But everyone who tests positive for coronavirus or has symptoms must continue to isolate for 10 days, whether they have been vaccinated or not.
To ensure that unvaccinated adults are fully supported to self-isolate today I am announcing an enhanced Protect offer to support people financially and with practical help to stay at home. We know from the latest Public Health Wales vaccine update data that those who are not fully vaccinated are more likely to be from groups who have been hardest hit by the pandemic. They tend to be on lower incomes, from Black Asian Minority Ethnic and other ethnic groups, less likely to be able to work from home and as a result will struggle financially with the impact of income loss.
Throughout the pandemic we have developed the Protect strand of TTP to provide the immediate financial and practical support during a period of isolation. This has included evolving the Self-Isolation Support Scheme to ensure money is available to those who need it most and providing targeted support to eliminate concerns around food and essential items, fuel poverty and access to mental health services.
To ensure that those on lower incomes do not suffer financially as a result of self-isolation, I am increasing the payment amount from £500 to £750 from 7 August when the new regulations come into force. This new amount will be reviewed after three months to assess effectiveness and to ensure best use of this critical financial support. The increased amount will also compensate anyone earning up to the personal income threshold of £500 per week with their loss of earnings over the ten day isolation period. Any applicant who is asked to self-isolate on or after 7 August will be eligible for the £750 payment.
We are also working with the Third Sector to identify support networks that can raise awareness of the financial support and assist individuals with the application process if they are struggling to provide the right information due to language, digital or confidence issues. Our aim is to ensure that the right support is targeted to the groups that need it most.
We know that vaccines are our best way out of the pandemic. We have a world leading vaccination programme and I encourage anyone who is not vaccinated to take up the vaccine offer. Any close contacts who are eligible for a vaccine will be offered information and support to attend an appointment after their self-isolation period to ensure that we take every opportunity to safeguard more people against the harms of Covid.
Changes to self-isolation policy can be found here: Changes to self-isolation for fully-vaccinated adults | GOV.WALES.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.