The contacts of those with coronavirus could have to self-isolate for as little as seven days under proposals being considered by ministers.
At the moment contacts of people infected with Covid-19 are told to self-isolate for 14 days.
But this could be slashed in half, amid fears over widespread flouting of the rules.
The move would not apply to those who test positive for the disease, however.
Research suggests few people self-isolate for a full fortnight.
Boris Johnson has publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with the ailing NHS Test and Trace programme, which last week hit a record low, reaching just 60 per cent of the contacts of those who tested positive.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said any changes would be guided by science.
"Teams are looking at what we can do around those isolation periods. This will be scientifically-led," he told Sky News's Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme.
"We are learning more about the virus every single day. As we learn and the scientists are able to gauge, we can look at whether we can reassess that.
"We are not ready to make a final decision or announcement on that yet but we want to make sure we are moving with science and allow people to live and work within this virus as best as we can while always making sure we protect people's health and the NHS."
Professor Sir Ian Diamond, the UK's national statistician, highlighted a King's College study that found about 70 per cent of people said they would self-isolate if they had symptoms.
However, a "very much lower proportion" who had had symptoms did isolate for a long as they were supposed to, he told the BBC Andrew Marr Show.
He added: "I do think really continuing to learn about the virus, continuing to learn about infectivity and continuing to identify the optimal times for self-isolation is important ... it's critical, because self-isolation is an incredibly important part of the way in which we will control this virus."