More than 2,500 people could be free to enjoy Christmas Day across Northamptonshire after ministers reduced the ten-day self-isolation requirement to a week.
People now need two negative lateral flow tests — the first on day six and the second 24 hours later — to leave quarantine.
But they will be urged to limit contact and wear face masks in public.
The rule change came into effect on Wednesday (December 22) and could allow those who tested positive last week to have Christmas with their loved ones when they had expected to be isolating until December 25.
That includes the 1,020 from Northamptonshire who tested positive on December 15, the 893 from December 16 and another 796 from December 17.
Those who are unvaccinated and identified as close contacts of someone who has the virus must still self-isolate for the full ten days.
UK Health Security Agency chief Dr Jenny Harries says it is crucial people stick to the rules on testing, despite the current shortages seen in some pharmacies.
She added: “Covid-19 is spreading quickly among the population and the pace at which Omicron is transmitting may pose a risk to running our critical public services during winter.
“This new guidance will help break chains of transmission and minimise the impact on lives and livelihoods.
“It is crucial that people carry out their lateral flow device tests as the new guidance states and continue to follow public health advice.
“As always, we urge everyone who is eligible to get their booster jab without delay, wear a mask in crowded spaces, on public transport and in shops, wash your hands regularly and ventilate rooms well.
■ Click HERE for information on getting a first, second or booster Covid jab in Northamptonshire
“If you have any Covid-19 symptoms, stay at home and get a PCR test as soon as possible.”
The move will also ease pressure on public services and businesses with workers forced to self-isolate as the number of Covid cases ticks up daily.
The British Medical Association has warned as many as 50,000 NHS staff will be self-isolating by Christmas Day.
Latest government figures showed nearly 6,000 people tested positive in Northamptonshire during the last seven days — more than the highest weekly figure during the second wave of the pandemic back in January.
But NHS England data due to be published later on Thursday (December 23) will confirm how many Covid patients have been admitted to Northamptonshire’s two main hospitals in the run-up to Christmas.