COVID-19: England lockdown

  • 2 Nov 2020

Update on optometric practice following the Government's announcement of new national restrictions in England

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This article was correct at time of publication. For the latest COVID-19 information, please visit the COVID-19: Updates, guidance, information and resources page.

The Government has announced new national restrictions in England to reduce the spread of COVID-19 from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December. In line with the recent NHS England/ Improvement announcement1, we recommend that all practices remain open to provide services, and continue to follow our Amber phase guidance during this period.

How will this affect optometrists?

People can leave their home to access medical services, including eye care.

  • When prioritising and scheduling appointments you should continue to consider the clinical needs and presenting symptoms relative to the risk of sight loss and harm to the patient.
  • Routine appointments can continue to be provided, if there is the sufficient capacity to do so, once all urgent and essential appointments have been managed. Sufficient time should be allowed to perform the required infection control procedures and safely complete all clinically indicated tests.
  • You should offer telephone and video review to patients in the first instance to determine COVID-19 status and level of eye care needed.
  • Continue to follow the College’s guidance on infection control, social distancing and PPE.

These recommendations are based on the information available today, but please note that the new restrictive measures will be debated and voted on by parliament on Wednesday. If there are changes which affect our advice, or new guidance from NHS England/Improvement, we will issue an alert to members.  


What will happen after this lockdown?

From 2 December, England will revert to its current regional approach to COVID-19 restrictions. We will advise members if this changes. Your relevant Local COVID Alert Level measures will continue to apply in your area until these new measures are introduced on Thursday. 

COVID-19 guidance and advice

Check our website regularly for the latest guidance, advice and resources, including:

  • A summary of optometric primary care during the pandemic, including guidance on practising during the red, amber and green phases. 
  • In-practice resources such as posters, floor stickers and a downloadable visual acuity chart for remote consultations.
  • Comprehensive COVID-19 FAQs, covering topics such as PPE, when to see routine patients and what to do if told to self-isolate. 

You should also take a look at our online learning courses:

Restrictions and the Scheme for Registration

If you, or your practice, is involved in helping a trainee to progress through the Scheme for Registration, Stage Two direct observation assessments can continue to take place across all four UK nations at present. Assessors are also still able to travel between nations to carry out a Stage Two direct observation, if necessary.

Find out more

If you would like further advice or guidance, please first refer to our comprehensive COVID-19 guidance. If you’re still unsure, please contact our clinical advice service, or the education team for queries related to the Scheme for Registration. 

1. In line with our recommendation, NHS England/ Improvement has also confirmed that practices should remain open and continue to prioritise patients based on clinical need and follow guidelines in relation to IPC and social distancing.


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