Updated IPC guidance and face coverings mandatory again in pharmacies
Following changes to regulations introduced in the wake of the identification of the first UK cases of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus, the wearing of face coverings in shops, including community pharmacies, is once again mandatory in England from today (30th November 2021).
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) also updated the UK-wide infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance last week, with a continuing recommendation that pharmacy staff wear a face mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Pharmacy contractors can continue to order face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) free of charge from the Government’s PPE portal.
Alongside the universal use of face masks for staff and face coverings for all patients/visitors within health and care settings, the IPC guidance now:
- Recommends that physical distancing of at least one metre (increasing whenever feasible to two metres) should be maintained across all health and care settings, including community pharmacies;
- Contains further information for employers to support maximum workplace risk mitigation against COVID-19 based on the ‘hierarchy of controls’; and
- Recommends staff testing for COVID-19 should continue over the winter period.