Optical practices in England can remain open in Tier 4, Government confirms

The new rules on business closures confirm that opticians and audiology can continue to operate as normal

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Optometry practices in Tier 4 locations in England can continue to operate as normal, Government guidance has confirmed.

The new legislation, released on Monday, states that ‘dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health’ can remain open in Tier 4 areas.

Previous guidance, released after the announcement of Tier 4 restrictions on Saturday 19 December, placed ‘medical and dental services’ under the banner of ‘Businesses and venues which can remain open’ and flagged ‘the NHS and medical services like GPs and dentists’ under public services that can keep operating as normal, but did not mention optical practices directly.

Tony Stafford, policy director at the AOP, said: “The new legislation explicitly confirms that optical practices can continue to operate as they did while in lower tiers.”

He went on to remind members that “The AOP has published guidance for members on how to operate safely under COVID-19 conditions, including infection prevention and control measures.”

AOP guidance for members on COVID-19 can be viewed here.

The AOP has communicated the message on practices remaining open to its members this afternoon, sharing the new legislation across its social media channels.

The College of Optometrists wrote to their English members earlier today, reiterating that practices could remain open, ‘prioritising urgent and essential cases and only seeing routine patients if you have capacity.’

The College also advised members who are helping trainees progress through the Scheme for Registration that direct observation assessments can continue to take place across all four UK nations.

It was confirmed on Friday 18 December that optometrists in Northern Ireland and Wales can also remain open to routine appointments, despite various lockdowns taking effect in these locations in the coming days.

NHS England has confirmed that shielding is being reintroduced in Tier 4 areas, with those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable advised not to go to work. Those shielding will be entitled to free deliveries of medicine and statutory pay if required. The new advice for those who are shielding can be seen here.

Optometry Today
will update this story if further measures restricting the services that practices can offer are announced.