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Statement on national lockdowns

5 Jan 2021

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Following the Government’s announcement on 4 January 2021, a new national lockdown in England and Scotland has come into effect. Now all four UK nations are in similar lockdowns.

As an independent regulator, our role is to ensure that services are regulated in line with our standards and legislation, and that any unnecessary regulatory barriers are removed so clinical care can be delivered in line with COVID-19 guidance from the Government.

In line with Government guidance, it is our understanding that optical practices will be able to remain open in the affected areas. We encourage registrants to read the guidance on the lockdown rules in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The College of Optometrists is advising that practices should continue to follow their amber guidance during this period. Optometry practices should prioritise emergency/urgent and essential care on a needs and symptoms-led basis. Routine appointments should only be provided if capacity permits, and if it is in the patients’ best interests. A statement has been released on The College’s website which provides more detail.

Our COVID-19 statements still remain in effect to support delivery of care and further advice can also be sought from the professional associations:

Practices are expected to adhere to the latest guidance to ensure they keep their staff and members of the public safe by following all infection prevention and control measures. This includes, but is not limited to, the provision of PPE and ensuring there is sufficient time between appointments for effective cleaning to take place.

Concerns about a practice’s approach should be raised with the practice in the first instance and where they cannot be resolved, concerns can be raised with our Fitness to Practise Team. We also encourage registrants to read our Raising Concerns guidance. If concerns are raised with us, we will require specific details in order to determine if regulatory intervention is appropriate.

We will continue to monitor the guidance from Government and the impact on services in conjunction with the optical sector and will update our guidance as we receive new information. 

All of the latest guidance and information is available on our COVID-19 page.

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