It is “vital” that face coverings continue to be worn in pharmacies after 19 July 2021, if COVID-19 restrictions are further lifted in England, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has said.
Prime minister Boris Johnson announced on 5 July 2021 that if England moves to the next phase of removing COVID-19 restrictions, face coverings will no longer be a legal requirement in shops, schools, hospitality or on public transport from 19 July 2021. Instead, “guidance will be in place to suggest where people might choose to wear one, such as where you come into contact with people you don’t usually meet in enclosed and crowded places”.
The final decision on whether to lift restrictions is due to be made on 12 July 2021.
However, in a statement published on 6 July 2021, Thorrun Govind, chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board, said that “face masks and social distancing in pharmacies and other healthcare settings should remain”.
It is important that community pharmacies “are fully recognised by government and the public as healthcare settings where vulnerable and ill people come to collect their medicines”, Govind said.
“It’s vital that mask wearing continues by the public and pharmacists in this environment to protect each other.”
Govind added that pharmacists at risk of coming into contact with COVD-19-positive patients “must be fully protected and provided with FFP3 masks when seeing patients”.
Research has been published that shows the higher grade FPP3 masks can afford healthcare staff extra protection from catching COVID-19.
The Scottish government has said there will be an “ongoing need” for face coverings even if it lifts other restrictions on 9 August 2021. In Wales, a review of restrictions is due to be announced on 15 July 2021.