The declaration of emergency, which allows the flexible provision of pharmaceutical services will end on 31 March, PSNC has confirmed.

The measure, which was initially introduced in March 2020 to help maintain pharmacy services during the Covid-19 pandemic, will end despite a rise in Covid cases across the country.

The declaration enables contractors to make temporary changes to their opening hours or temporary closures where needed. Although it was originally due to end in January, the Government extended it until March amid high Covid-19 cases.

In an update on the status of the declaration, PSNC said that the Government had ‘indicated’ that should there be a further wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new declaration of emergency would be considered.

Covid cases in the UK have been trending upwards for nearly a month, with 98,204 positive tests logged in the last 24 hours – a 10% increase from last week.

In January, a superintendent at a pharmacy chain told The Pharmacist that staff shortages have led him to consider reducing pharmacy hours so he is not forced to close stores across the country.

The superintendent said that more staff than ever before were off work while isolating with Covid.

DHSC recently announced that community pharmacies in England will be eligible to receive free personal protective equipment (PPE) from the Government until 31 March 2023.