Those classed as clinically vulnerable have been advised by the Government to only visit pharmacies — and retail premises — at ‘quieter times of the day’ after 19 July.
The group have also been told to consider waiting three weeks after their second jab before coming into ‘close contact’ with anyone outside their home.
The guidance, updated yesterday, comes into effect on 19 July when the UK moves into its final step of lockdown easing, as confirmed by the health secretary yesterday afternoon.
‘As someone who is at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if you were to catch Covid-19, you may wish to think particularly carefully about additional precautions you might wish to continue to take,’ the new guidance says.
This advice comes a few months after the community pharmacy home delivery service came to an end in England, after CEV people were told they no longer had to shield.
The guidance also said that face masks in certain settings — including pharmacies — will no longer be mandatory in England.
However, earlier this week, the governments in devolved nations Scotland and Wales have stated that face masks and other measures will continue to be a requirement in health and social care.
Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), advised pharmacies to ‘carefully consider’ how they can continue to protect their clinically vulnerable patients from Covid.
‘Pharmacies are healthcare settings where pharmacy teams are providing face-to-face care, often to people who are clinically vulnerable,’ he said.
‘One of the key principles of our standards for registered pharmacies is that the environment and condition of the premises from which pharmacy services are provided, and any associated premises, safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public.
‘We would ask pharmacy owners to carefully consider how best they can continue to meet the standards and their ongoing health and safety obligations in order to protect patients and the public and staff, once some Covid-19 safety measures are no longer a legal requirement.
‘We would also ask all members of the public to be respectful of pharmacy teams and other people visiting the pharmacy, by continuing to comply with any measures that pharmacies keep in place relating to social distancing, wearing of face coverings or other arrangements designed in the interests of patient and staff safety,’ he said.
When asked whether they will continue to enforce mandatory face masks in their pharmacy, LloydsPharmacy told the Pharmacist they are ‘finalising [their] position on this following last night’s announcement and guidance.’
A Boots spokesperson also told the Pharmacist that they cannot yet confirm what the multiple plans are regarding the new guidance.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), has today (13 July) signed an open letter to the prime minister, Boris Johnson, along with almost 60 other health bodies — urging the government to reconsider the decision to lift virtually all infection control measures.
The letter said that removing all requirements for people to wear masks may mean CEV people struggle to return to work safely.
It said: ‘Recent moves to encourage the public to take responsibility for infection control, we feel, fall short of the clear reassurance people most vulnerable to the virus need.’