8 July 2022

COVID-19: Universal mask wearing update in England

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, regional NHS bodies in England are asking practices to review their mask-wearing guidance.

NHS England, Midlands has written to primary care practices today to ask them to review their mask wearing guidance following a significant increase in COVID-19 transmissions over the last week. The letter advises that local health care providers should undertake a risk assessment and consider reinstating universal masking for staff and patients. 

In line with section B39 of the Guidance for Professional Practice, optometrists should continue to wear a fluid resistant surgical face mask (FRSM) where there is a public health requirement to wear one. 

This letter by NHSE Midlands should be viewed as a strong steer to implement universal masking based on local COVID-19 case prevalence in the Midlands area, until notified otherwise. Other areas in England may receive similar local guidance in the coming days. You may choose to implement universal masking if your practice-based risk assessment indicates it is a necessary infection control measure, based on your local COVID-19 case prevalence or a new circulating SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern. 

This article was correct at time of publication. 

Related further reading

Clinical Adviser for the College Daniel Hardiman-McCartney FCOptom on how to ensure a sustainable optometry workforce.

Clinical case studies can make a small but important contribution to the sum of clinical knowledge. Why do we need them, asks Kim Thomas, and how do you write one?

The College’s Clinical Editor, Jane Veys MCOptom, on rabbits in the headlights and royally good handovers