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covid contacts

As close contact rules change in Ireland, what's the advice in other parts of the world?

The rules are different across the board. Let’s take a closer look.

IRELAND’S CLOSE CONTACT rules are changing with different advice soon to be in place for people exposed to a positive Covid-19 case. 

It means that people who are close contacts, have no symptoms and have received a booster jab will not have to restrict their movements.

The measure will take effect from Friday, the Taoiseach confirmed this afternoon. 

Guidance around whether people who have been exposed to Covid-19 need to self-isolate if they don’t have symptoms has changed during the pandemic, and differs between nations.

As a comparison, here’s a closer look at the guidance for close contacts in other parts of the world.


People in England do not need to self-isolate as a close contact if they are fully vaccinated (two doses), under the age of 18, taking part in a Covid-19 vaccine trial or are unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons.

This is the case once they don’t have symptoms. If any Covid symptoms emerge, people are advised to self-isolate and get a PCR test. 

Close contacts who don’t have symptoms and don’t need to isolate are “strongly advised” to do daily antigen tests for a week and to consider limiting contact with people at higher risk from Covid. 

They’re also directed towards advice on how to stop the spread of Covid such as wearing masks, limiting your close contacts, meeting people outdoors and washing hands regularly. 

Northern Ireland 

The rules for close contacts are a bit different in NI.

Fully vaccinated close contacts (those who received their second dose more than 14 days ago) need to self-isolate and take an antigen test as soon as possible after they find out they are a close contact. 

They don’t need to take a PCR test at this time. If the antigen test comes back negative, they can stop isolating but should continue to take daily antigen tests until it has been ten days after the date of contact with the person who has Covid. 

If an antigen test comes back positive, people are told to isolate immediately. They no longer need to book a confirmatory PCR test.  

Unvaccinated people aged 18 or older must self-isolate for 10 days after being in contact with a confirmed case. They don’t need to book a PCR test unless symptoms develop. 

United States

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reduced the isolation time for people with Covid-19 to five days in certain circumstances.

The isolation period has also been reduced for people who are close contacts of a Covid case. 

Unvaccinated people or those who received their second dose more than six months ago (or two months since the Janssen one-dose shot) should isolate for five days, followed by a further five days of wearing masks around other people. 

If a five-day quarantine isn’t feasible, the CDC said the person must wear a well-fitting mask for ten days after they were exposed to a person with Covid. 

People who have received a booster Covid vaccine dose don’t need to isolate if they are a close contact, but are advised to wear a mask for ten days. 

The CDC said it is “best practice” for close contacts to take a Covid test five days after they were exposed. Anyone who develops symptoms in the meantime should isolate and get tested. 


Until recently, anyone with Covid-19 had to self-isolate for 14 days regardless of their vaccination status.

But this changed in the last few weeks to ten days once the person is no longer displaying symptoms at this date.

Close contacts who are vaccinated against Covid, and those who are not, must isolate for ten days. They can end their isolation period early with a negative Covid test seven days after exposure.

Those who are boosted, in a similar measure to the one Ireland has now introduced, are exempt from isolation. 

This also applies to people who have been recently fully vaccinated within the last 14 days and two month, people who tested positive for Covid in the past two months and people who had Covid-19 at any stage and are also fully vaccinated.


People who are boosted in France also don’t need to isolate if they are a close contact. 

However, they are advised to strictly adhere to measure such as wearing a face mask, avoid people at risk of serious illness from Covid and work from home if possible.

They also must do an antigen or PCR test when they find out they are a close contact, followed by another test on days two and four after they were last in contact with the positive case.

Those who received two doses of a Covid vaccine, but not a booster, and those who aren’t vaccinated need to isolate for seven days. 

They require a negative Covid test after this to end their isolation period. 


Household contacts of a positive case in Sweden need to isolate for at least seven days, regardless of their vaccination status. They are also advised to get tested for Covid-19. 

If the contacts don’t develop symptoms and receive a negative test result after seven days of isolation, they can leave quarantine. 

Unvaccinated close contacts are recommended to get tested and avoid being in contact with people outside their household for a week, and work from home if possible. 

Vaccinated people or those who have had Covid in the past six months don’t need to get tested if they have no symptoms.

However, if a close contact develops symptoms the same rules apply as in most countries – to isolate, get a test and stay at home while awaiting results. 

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