Limits on the number of visitors to care homes in England are being scrapped next week following the success of the Covid-19 booster jabs campaign.

From January 31, there will be no limit on the number of visitors allowed into care homes and self-isolation periods will be cut, with the new rules applying to England only, the Department for Health and Social Care has said.

Care homes will only have to follow outbreak management rules for 14 rather than 28 days, and self-isolation periods will be cut from 14 days to 10 days for those who test positive – with further reductions if they test negative on days five and six.

Isolation periods for those in care following an emergency hospital visit are also being reduced from 14 to 10 days.

In addition, workers will be asked to start using lateral flow tests before their shifts instead of weekly PCR tests from February 16.

This comes as 86.5% of care home residents have now had a booster vaccination, which gives high levels of protection against the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I know how vital companionship is to those living in care homes and the positive difference visits make, which is why we continued to allow three named visitors and an essential care giver under Plan B measures.

“Thanks to the progress we have made, I am delighted that care home restrictions can now be eased further, allowing residents to see more of their loved ones.”

Care minister Gillian Keegan said: “Thanks to the continued success of the vaccine rollout, I am delighted we can ease restrictions in care settings and allow unlimited visits to ensure people living in care homes see all their family and friends.

“The changes announced today are backed by scientists, ensuring we all have more freedoms from coronavirus, including care home residents and their families.”