England enters national lockdown

Essential retailers will be permitted to remain open following the introduction of new restrictions to stem the spread of COVID-19

A third national lockdown has been introduced in England, preventing people from leaving their homes except for certain permitted activities.

Guidance on the national lockdown confirmed that English residents can leave their homes for medical reasons – such as getting a COVID-19 test or attending a medical appointment.

On Tuesday morning (5 January), optometrists had not received specific confirmation that optical practices can remain open in England under the new lockdown.

In a statement shared on social media on 4 January, the College of Optometrists advised optometrists to continue to follow the amber guidance and prioritise emergency and essential cases. The organisation added that more information on this, as well as the impact to the Scheme for Registration and January OSCEs would follow.

The government guidance also states that essential retail stores, such as food shops, supermarkets and pharmacies, can remain open during lockdown.

Medical services, such as GPs and dentists, will continue to operate during the third lockdown.

The AOP policy team is working closely with government officials to find out their position on optometry practices remaining open.

As well as accessing medical services, people can leave their homes to shop for food, exercise and to go to work if they cannot work from home.

Schools and colleges in England will close to most pupils, while university students have been advised not to return to campus.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also announced further help for businesses, with those in retail, hospitality and leisure eligible to claim grants of up to £9000. An extension of the furlough scheme until the end of April, as well as business rates relief, had previously been confirmed.

The return to tighter restrictions in England follows the introduction of a national lockdown in Scotland at midnight on 4 January.

OT endeavours to keep the most up-to-date news on our website and this information was correct when published. However, the situation regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) is rapidly evolving.