The proportion of people who fully self-isolate after testing positive for Covid-19 has fallen sharply since the rules were scrapped in England at the end of February, a new survey suggests.
Just over half (53%) of people questioned said they had followed the full advice for self-isolating, down from four in five (80%) in February when isolation was a legal requirement.
The survey was carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) between March 17 and 26, nearly a month since the Government removed all rules for self-isolation in England on February 24.
At the time of the survey, adults and children who tested positive for coronavirus were advised to stay at home and avoid contact with others for at least five full days, and to follow this guidance until they had received two negative test results on consecutive days.
Levels of compliance with the self-isolation guidance were lower among 18 to 34-year-olds (48%) and 35 to 54-year-olds (53%) than among people aged 55 and over (56%), the ONS found.
They were also lower for males (49%) than females (55%).
However, almost all (98%) respondents agreed that it is important to follow self-isolation advice.
Tim Gibbs, head of the ONS public services analysis team, said: “Today’s data show compliance with self-isolation advice was notably lower compared with levels reported earlier in the year.
We’ve released new data on self-isolation after testing positive for #COVID19 in England (data collected between 17 and 26 Mar 2022).— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) April 20, 2022
Compliance with self-isolation rules was significantly lower than levels reported in early Mar (64%) and Feb (80%) https://t.co/muP1vFdN9J pic.twitter.com/zyoUGA7a67
“It is important to note that self-isolation was advised but not legally required during the time of data collection.
“Of those who did not fully follow self-isolation advice, the most common reason for those leaving the house was for outdoor recreation or exercise.”
The survey also shows that 55% of respondents who left their homes during self-isolation or while they had symptoms said they had worn a mask every time they went outside, down from 66% in February.
Some 91% of respondents said they had no difficulty accessing Covid-19 tests – although the survey was carried out before free testing was ended for most people in England on April 1.
Nearly two-thirds (63%) said they would still take a test if they had to buy one.
The ONS noted the survey has a relatively small number of respondents (1,286 adults in England) who have self-reported their behaviour, and as such care needs to be taken when interpreting the results.