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From 28 September 2020, people in England will be required by law to self-isolate if they test positive or are contacted by NHS Test and Trace, which aims to ensure compliance and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Fines for those breaking the rules now in place start at £1,000 and increase up to £10,000 for repeat offenders.

Those on lower incomes who cannot work from home and have lost income as a result will also be eligible for a new £500 Test and Trace Support Payment, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed.

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Local authorities will be working quickly to set up Test and Trace Support Payment schemes, which are estimated to be in place by 12 October. Those who are told to self-isolate from today will receive backdated payments, if they are eligible, once the scheme is set up in their local authority.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Anyone can catch coronavirus and anyone can spread it. We all have a crucial part to play in keeping the number of new infections down and protecting our loved ones.

“As cases rise it is imperative we take action, and we are introducing a legal duty to self-isolate when told to do so, with fines for breaches and a new £500 support payment for those on lower incomes who can’t work from home while they are self-isolating.

“These simple steps can make a huge difference to reduce the spread of the virus, but we will not hesitate to put in place further measures if cases continue to rise.”

As the UK moves to coronavirus alert level 4 due to a rapid rise in confirmed cases, these new measures will help ensure compliance and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

A number of steps will also be taken to make sure that people are complying with the rules. These include:

  • NHS Test and Trace call handlers increasing contact with those self-isolating
  • using police resources to check compliance in highest incidence areas and in high-risk groups, based on local intelligence
  • investigating and prosecuting high-profile and egregious cases of non-compliance
  • acting on instances where third parties have identified others who have tested positive but are not self-isolating

Recognising that self-isolation is one of the most powerful tools for controlling the transmission of COVID-19, this new Test and Trace Support payment of £500 will ensure that those on low incomes are able to self-isolate without worry about their finances.

Just under 4 million people who are in receipt of benefits in England will be eligible for this payment, which will be available to those who have been notified that they must self-isolate from today.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “These new measures are about saving lives. Everyone must take personal responsibility and self-isolate if they test positive or if told to do so by NHS Test and Trace.

“For those who fail to do so, the police will enforce the law. These new fines are a clear sign that we will not allow those who break the rules to reverse the hard-won progress made by the law-abiding majority.”

Employers who force or allow staff to come to work when they should be self-isolating will also be liable for fines of up to £10,000, sending a clear message that this will not be tolerated, DHSC emphasises.

If someone or another member of their household has symptoms of coronavirus, they should isolate immediately, the government advises. If someone receives a positive test result, they are now required by law to self-isolate for the period ending 10 days after displaying symptoms or after the date of the test, if they did not have symptoms.

Other members of their household must self-isolate for the period ending 14 days after symptom onset, or after the date of the initial person’s positive test.

If someone is instructed to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, because they have had close contact with someone outside their household who has tested positive, they are legally required to self-isolate for the period notified by NHS Test and Trace.

Both household and non-household contacts must self-isolate for the full period, regardless of whether they have symptoms and, if they develop symptoms and take a test, regardless of whether any test taken gives a negative result.

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