23 February 2022

Removal of COVID-19 domestic restrictions in England

We've issued advice, jointly with ABDO, following the Prime Minister's announcement that England would be removing all remaining COVID-19 legal restrictions from 24 February 2022.

This week the Prime Minister announced that England would be removing all remaining COVID-19 legal restrictions from Thursday 24 February. This is distinct from the UK wide Infection Prevention and Control guidance for health and care settings, which should continue to be followed. Self-isolation requirements and return to work criteria for health and care staff in England currently still apply and NHSE have confirmed they will be writing to contractors to confirm this in the coming days. Optometry practices and staff should continue to follow the College’s Amber guidance and FAQs to maintain high standards of infection control to keep staff and patients safe from the continued risk of COVID-19, including:

  • maintaining patient screening for COVID-19 and respiratory symptoms
  • maintaining physical distancing
  • ensuring all staff wear a fluid resistant face mask (FRFM) and follow the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • ensuring scrupulous hand washing
  • ensuring good surface decontamination after every patient episode
  • encouraging all staff to regularly use lateral flow device (LFD) tests where available and report the results
  • ensuring adequate ventilation
  • implementing the necessary droplet and airborne transmission based precautions when providing face-to-face care for patients with suspected or confirmed respiratory infection.

We are in contact with NHS England and public health organisations to determine when any planned changes to self-isolation requirements and asymptomatic testing for primary care settings in England, including optometry practices and staff, will be published. We are also developing guidance to transition to the Green phase as we learn to live with COVID-19, and will continue to keep members updated of any future changes to our COVID-19 guidance.

If you have any questions or concerns relating to our COVID-19 guidance, please contact our clinical advice service.

This article was correct at time of publication. 

Related further reading

As society continues to open up, the Optometry in Practice editorial board thought it opportune to reflect on the experiences of the pandemic to date and assess the impact on both eyecare professionals and our patients.

It is rare for respiratory viruses to cause eye infections, writes Kim Thomas, but they may use the eye as a portal of entry. And what is the mechanism behind their travel to the respiratory system?

The College’s Clinical Editor on renewed excitement and optimism in the profession.