Pharmacy News

Guidance on use of face-coverings by patients and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic

From 24th July 2020, people in shops, including community pharmacies, are required by law to wear a face covering (subject to some exemptions).

Key aspects of the new Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place) (England) Regulations 2020 include:

  • It is not compulsory for a member of staff in a shop to wear face coverings (but see also our guidance on use of PPE in pharmacies);
  • Certain people are exempt from the requirements, for example, children under the age of 11;
  • There are reasonable excuses for not wearing a face covering, which include a person who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of any physical or mental illness or impairment, or because of a disability within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010, or those who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering without severe distress;
  • If asked by a pharmacy staff member, a person in the pharmacy may remove their face covering in order to assist in the provision of healthcare or healthcare advice;
  • A face covering can be removed to take medication, e.g. to consume methadone in a pharmacy; and
  • Where a relevant person, such as a police constable or police community support officer, considers that a person who should wear a face covering is not wearing one, he or she may direct that person not to enter the relevant place, or direct that person to wear a face covering, or direct that person to leave the premises.

The liability for wearing a face covering is with the individual, not the retailer.

A pharmacy may refuse to provide medicines and appliances on prescription if a person commits or threatens to commit a criminal offence. The police have formal enforcement powers and can issue fines for people refusing to comply with the face covering legislation, and the Government has indicated that retailers could refuse entry to people refusing to wear a face covering.