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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

As the regulator for vets and vet nurses in the UK, our priority is the health and safety of those we regulate. We hope the information in this section will empower you to make decisions that will enable you to protect yourselves and your clients during the pandemic, whilst continuing to provide the best care you can to your patients at this extremely challenging time.

UPDATE (25 March 2021): Recovery guidance published

210324_covid recovery guidance

We have published new Covid recovery guidance for the veterinary professions in the UK, to replace our previous emergency guidance and help veterinary practices continue a gradual return to near-normal operations, subject to a number of provisions.

The recovery guidance aligns with the UK governments’ collective intention to open up parts of the indoor economy.

Use professional judgement & maintain biosecurity

Subject to each government’s plans remaining in place, our new guidance enables practices across the UK to provide services to clients in accordance with their professional judgement, the ongoing requirement to maintain biosecurity and social distancing, and any other relevant government guidelines and restrictions.

Flowcharts removed

Our Covid flowcharts, which have aimed to support veterinary decision-making throughout the pandemic restrictions, have therefore been removed, and practices will no longer be expected to provide only essential/urgent services.

Further guidance

Over the coming days and weeks, we will be working to update all our existing FAQs (below) to bring them into line with the UK governments' respective roadmaps, guidelines and deadlines.

Alongside our guidance, the British Veterinary Association has also published guidance for veterinary practices on working safely as lockdown restrictions are eased.

Read our full statement

Frequently Asked Questions

Filter FAQs

Coronavirus advice

  • In line with the four UK governments’ plans for easing restrictions, practices across the UK are able to open without restrictions and provide services to clients in accordance with their professional judgement.

    The UK government still requires businesses to demonstrate robust strategies for managing the risk of transmission, and the use of  provisions such as social distancing / use of PPE etc, to ensure the safety of staff and clients will be a matter of choice for business.

    It will therefore be for individual practices / premises to decide, according to their individual circumstances, how they will operate in compliance with these requirements.

    Please read the government’s guidance for employers and businesses in England (see guidance for WalesScotland and Northern Ireland).

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 5 August 2021

  • The governments of all four UK nations have produced plans for the easing of lockdown restrictions, each of which is running at a slightly different speed. Please click on the links below for the guidance appropriate for your country.

    Although veterinary practices may remain open, it is vital to continue to comply with current government guidelines on working safely, which vary by nation and region within the UK, and to be mindful of the relevant guidance for members of the public.

    Please click on the drop-down below that is relevant to your nation: 

    England

    From 12 April 2021

    The Government has issued a roadmap providing a step-by-step plan of changes to ease restrictions in England. 

    Changes due to take effect no earlier than 12 April open up parts of the indoor economy. Such changes are contingent on four tests being met:

    • Test 1: The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
    • Test 2: Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
    • Test 3: Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
    • Test 4:  assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.
       

    The indicative, ‘no earlier than’ date may therefore be subject to change, so our guidance, which links to these dates, may also be subject to change.

    210324_covid recovery guidance

    Professional judgement and biosecurity

    Subject to this proviso - with effect from 12 April practices will be able to provide services to clients in accordance with their professional judgement – i.e. no longer just ‘essential services’. However, it must be stressed that 12 April does NOT see any change in social contact rules; government still requires businesses to demonstrate robust strategies for managing the risk of transmission, so provisions such as social distancing / use of PPE etc, to ensure the safety of staff and clients remain in force.

    It will therefore be for individual practices / premises to decide, according to their individual circumstances, how they will operate in compliance with these requirements.

    Recognising that there could be ongoing issues for certain members of both staff and the public in attending and accessing practices for some time, where there is no suitable alternative, remote prescribing will continue to be permitted subject to guidelines that can be found at FAQ 4.

    Flowcharts removed

    It will therefore be for individual practices / premises to decide, according to their individual circumstances, how they will operate in compliance with these requirements.

    We have therefore removed our previous flowcharts that aimed to assist with veterinary decision-making during lockdown restrictions.

    Remote prescribe if no suitable alternative

    Recognising that there could be ongoing issues for certain members of both staff and the public in attending and accessing practices for some time, where there is no suitable alternative, remote prescribing will continue to be permitted subject to guidelines that can be found at FAQ 4.

    Further information is available from the English government website.

    Wales

    From 22 March 2021

    On 19 March, the Welsh government published guidance for businesses as the country entered into Alert Level 4 and on 22 March, some classes of non-essential retail re-opened. However, the Welsh CVO’s office has confirmed that this has not changed the Welsh Government’s guidance for vets. Unlike previous lockdowns, vets are no longer required to limit their work and services to urgent work, and there is more discretion for vets to manage their workloads safely.

    However, government still requires businesses to demonstrate robust strategies for managing the risk of transmission, so provisions such as social distancing / use of PPE etc, to ensure the safety of staff and clients remain in force.

    It will therefore be for individual practices / premises to decide, according to their individual circumstances, how they will operate in compliance with these requirements.

    210324_covid recovery guidance

    Professional judgement and biosecurity

    Unlike previous lockdowns, vets are no longer required to limit their work and services to urgent work, and there is more discretion for vets to manage their workloads safely, in accordance with their professional judgement.

    However, government still requires businesses to demonstrate robust strategies for managing the risk of transmission, so provisions such as social distancing, use of PPE etc, to ensure the safety of staff and clients remain in force.

    Flowcharts removed

    It will therefore be for individual practices / premises to decide, according to their individual circumstances, how they will operate in compliance with these requirements.

    We have therefore removed our previous flowcharts that aimed to assist with veterinary decision-making during lockdown restrictions.

    Remote prescribe if no suitable alternative

    Remote prescribe if no suitable alternative
    Recognising that there could be ongoing issues for certain members of both staff and the public in attending and accessing practices for some time, where there is no suitable alternative, remote prescribing will continue to be permitted subject to guidelines that can be found at FAQ 4.

    Further information is available from the Welsh government website.

    Scotland

    From 5 April 2021

    On 16th March the Scottish Government published a timetable for easing restrictions. Assuming that all goes well, the next significant milestone will be 5 April, when the Scottish Government plan to ease a wider range of current restrictions in level 4 areas, including reopening of non-essential click and collect, and extending the list of retail premises permitted to open.

    210324_covid recovery guidance

    Professional judgement and biosecurity

    From 5 April, the Scottish CVO’s office has confirmed that veterinary practices will be able to provide services to clients in accordance with their professional judgement – i.e. no longer just ‘essential services’. 

    However, it must be stressed that 5 April does NOT see any change in social contact rules; government still requires businesses to demonstrate robust strategies for managing the risk of transmission, so provisions such as social distancing / use of PPE etc, to ensure the safety of staff and clients remain in force.

    Flowcharts removed

    It will therefore be for individual practices / premises to decide, according to their individual circumstances, how they will operate in compliance with these requirements.

    We have therefore removed our previous flowcharts that aimed to assist with veterinary decision-making during lockdown restrictions.

    Remote prescribe if no suitable alternative

    Recognising that there could be ongoing issues for certain members of both staff and the public in attending and accessing practices for some time, where there is no suitable alternative, remote prescribing will continue to be permitted subject to guidelines that can be found at FAQ 4.

    Further information is available from the Scottish government website

    Northern Ireland

    From 12 April 2021

    From 12 April, the Northern Ireland Executive has confirmed that the ‘stay at home’ provision will be removed from legislation and from this date, veterinary practices will be able to provide services to clients in accordance with their professional judgement – i.e. no longer just ‘essential services’. 

    210324_covid recovery guidance

    Professional judgement and biosecurity

    From this date, veterinary practices will be able to provide services to clients in accordance with their professional judgement, ie no longer just 'essential services'. 

    However, it must be stressed that 12 April does NOT see any change in social contact rules; government still requires businesses to demonstrate robust strategies for managing the risk of transmission, so provisions such as social distancing / use of PPE etc, to ensure the safety of staff and clients remain in force.

    Flowcharts removed

    It will therefore be for individual practices / premises to decide, according to their individual circumstances, how they will operate in compliance with these requirements.

    We have therefore removed our previous flowcharts that aimed to assist with veterinary decision-making during lockdown restrictions.

    Remote prescribe if no suitable alternative

    Recognising that there could be ongoing issues for certain members of both staff and the public in attending and accessing practices for some time, where there is no suitable alternative, remote prescribing will continue to be permitted subject to guidelines that can be found at FAQ 4.

    Further information is available from the Northern Ireland government website.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 12 April 2021

  • You will need to decide whether the animal needs to be seen now, whether the case can be supported remotely or whether treatment can be delayed. If, after triaging the animal, you feel it is necessary to see them, consider whether it could be brought to you (or you go to it) without putting your own, or someone else’s, health at unnecessary risk.

    For example, ask whether another person can bring the animal to the practice, or another appropriate location, on the owner’s behalf.

    Government guidance states that Coronavirus does not easily pass between pets or other animals in the UK. However, if you do decide to see the animal in person, normal biosecurity measures, as well as additional government guidance on hand washing, should be observed.

    Consider the extent to which you can assist remotely - this may include giving advice via remote means as to how to manage the animal’s condition at home.

    There may be instances where, in order to ensure your own safety, an animal needs to be taken away from its owners to undergo treatment, or euthanasia, for welfare reasons. This is likely to be particularly upsetting as most owners will want to be with their animal when they are put to sleep. As such, you may wish to consider whether you can direct them to an appropriate source of support, for example a bereavement or counselling service.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 22 November 2021

  • This FAQ has now been removed.

    On 26 October 2021, our Standards Committee decided that the temporary dispensation that has allowed veterinary surgeons to, under strict conditions and safeguards, prescribe prescription-only veterinary medicines remotely should end on 21 November 2021.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 22 November 2021

  • In line with the four UK governments’ plans for easing restrictions, practices across the UK are able to open without restrictions and provide services to clients in accordance with their professional judgement. However, practices are to be mindful of the ongoing requirement to maintain biosecurity and social distancing.

    The UK government still requires businesses to demonstrate robust strategies for managing the risk of transmission, so provisions such as social distancing / use of PPE etc, to ensure the safety of staff and clients will remain in force.

    It will therefore be for individual practices / premises to decide, according to their individual circumstances, how they will operate in compliance with these requirements. For example:

    • Ask clients if they or a member of their household are currently self-isolating or have tested positive for the virus when booking appointments and before attending any home/farm visits or offsite consultations.
    • Reduce the number of people attending the premises to the absolute minimum and limit physical contact with clients wherever possible. This could be achieved by asking that only one person accompanies an animal when attending the practice, or by asking clients to wait in the waiting room, outside or even in their cars while you examine their animal. The consultation with the owner could then take place over the telephone.
    • Ensure employees and clients wear face masks when on premises, including the consultation room, waiting area and any communal areas.
    • You may keep a record of clients attending your practice so that you can inform them if there is a positive case of coronavirus amongst your staff or other persons entering your premises. Whilst veterinary practices are not required to collect information via the QR code scanning system for the NHS Track and Trace programme, practices may consider implementing this system as part of the public health effort to contain the spread of coronavirus. The QR code service is only available in England and Wales. It allows visitors to scan the QR code when they arrive, using the NHS COVID-19 app. More information regarding the QR code in England and Wales is available on the government website.
    • You may sign up to workplace coronavirus testing: Defra Secretary of State George Eustice MP has encouraged employers in England to sign up to the government’s workplace coronavirus testing programme. This is a voluntary initiative for employers to sign up and for employee participation. To qualify for free lateral flow tests, applications must be registered by 31 March 2021. Please view further information.

    Please read the government’s guidance for employers and businesses in England (see guidance for WalesScotland and Northern Ireland).

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 12 April 2021

  • It may assist to draw your employer’s attention to the most recent guidance for employers and businesses in EnglandWalesScotland and Northern Ireland.

    If you are a member of a veterinary association or union that has a legal helpline, you may also wish to contact them for assistance with matters relating to your employment.

    In addition, there is also specific coronavirus advice from ACAS for both employers and employees.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 5 August 2021

  • Update - 8 June 2020

    The RCVS Taskforce have reviewed the decision taken in March to reduce the CPD hourly requirements for vets and VNs by 25% and agreed there will be no further reduction in CPD requirements this year.

    To inform their review, the taskforce looked at the data in the RCVS CPD recording platform, 1CPD which almost 60% of vets and 80% of VNs are using. This shows that around two-thirds of vets and VNs using the portal have so far completed more than 90% of the required hours for the year. A small minority of vets and VNs using the 1CPD portal have completed less than 20% of hours required.

    We recognise that many veterinary professionals may be struggling with competing priorities during this time. If you think you may not achieve your required CPD this year, we would encourage you to contact the Education team as soon as possible by emailing onecpd@rcvs.org.uk so we can discuss this with you. 

    Original statement - 30 March 2020

    In recognition of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions brought in by the UK Government in order to control its transmission, we have reduced by 25% the number of hours of CPD that you will have to complete during 2020.

    Therefore, this year, the annual minimum requirement for veterinary surgeons will be reduced from 35 to 26 hours of CPD, while that of veterinary nurses will be reduced from 15 to 11 hours.

    The reduction comes into force immediately to help relieve the pressure on you in facing significant and competing challenges in the coming weeks and months.

    We recognise that, although some veterinary professionals have seen a reduced workload and may well take this opportunity to do CPD, many will now be juggling their professional responsibilities with increased family, childcare and other caring responsibilities and may, therefore, be finding it difficult to plan for and undertake CPD.

    A similar 25% reduction pro rata (for 2020) will also be introduced for veterinary surgeons holding Advanced Practitioner or RCVS Specialist status, as retaining these statuses requires additional hours of CPD across a 5-year period, including in the specific areas of designation.

    We would urge you to remember, however, that our CPD policy for vets and vet nurses already allows for many different types of learning and development, not just attending physical events.

    While going to conferences and other events may not be possible for many for the time being, there is a wide variety of CPD that you can still access, including webinars, online learning, and reading relevant journals.

    We understand that, in some cases, the organisers of cancelled events are working to make the learning resources available online instead.

    There is a range of resources that you may find helpful on our website, including blog posts and videos about types of CPD to consider. Please visit www.rcvs.org.uk/cpd2020.

    Read our full statement

    Last updated: 8 June 2020

  • RCVS Council has agreed to a number of temporary measures around the Extra-Mural Studies (EMS) requirements for current UK veterinary students, in response to the coronavirus outbreak and the associated restrictions during the period of lockdown. These measures are summarised on our EMS page.

    The temporary changes to EMS policy will be kept under constant review and may be subject to further change, as restrictions due to the pandemic are eased and / or reintroduced if there is a second wave of infection.

    Contact the Education Team: education@rcvs.org.uk / 020 7202 0791

    Last updated: 14 July 2020

  • Several universities and awarding organisations expressed concerns regarding student veterinary nurses’ attendance in clinical placement and employment, due to the precautions around transmission of Coronavirus. This applies to all students in all years of a programme, although there were particular concerns as to the impact this will have on final-year students being unable to complete the required number of hours in order to complete their licence to practise qualification and be eligible to apply to register with the RCVS.

    There have also been concerns raised over the completion of the RCVS Day One Skills for Veterinary Nurses (DOS) should students be unable to attend their clinical placements or employment. The RCVS Day One Competences and Day One Skills for Veterinary Nurses set out the minimum essential requirements that we expect all student nurses to have met when they register, to ensure they are safe and competent to practise on day one, in whichever area of the profession they start to work.

    Universities and awarding organisations requested a degree of flexibility around the RCVS VN Registration Rules and completion of the RCVS Day One Skills, in light of the Covid-19 situation.

    The following therefore applies:

    • Veterinary Nurses Council recognises that it should not be compulsory for students to complete clinical placements or employment during the current pandemic. This will apply to students in any year of their studies.

    • It is also recognised that for students in their final year of study, it may be difficult for them to make up the hours of clinical placement or employment missed prior to completing their programme. Universities, awarding organisations and colleges should continue to support their students and explore alternatives, however any shortfall relative to the requirements should not be a barrier to completion of the programme.

    • It is anticipated that both further and higher education students not in their final year of study would have sufficient time to make up the number of hours prior to completing their programme however, this will be reviewed as the Covid-19 pandemic progresses.

    • Student veterinary nurses will still be required to complete the RCVS Day One Skills for Veterinary Nurses in their totality as these seek to assure competence at the point of registration. Where a student has completed the Day One Skills in fewer than the required 1,800 hours, this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis on application to register.

    • The RCVS Veterinary Nursing Department has issued guidance on completion of the RCVS Day One Skills to all programme providers. This guidance includes the use of professional discussion, set tasks and simulation where appropriate.


    NB We have also published advice about OSCEs and unseen examinations - please read FAQ12

    Contact the VN team:  vetnursing@rcvs.org.uk / 020 7202 0788

    *This guidance was first published on 27 March, updated on 2 June, 30 July and 12 October for a further 8 weeks, after which the situation will be reviewed again.

    Last reviewed: 20 April 2021

  • During the first peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in spring 2020, there was concern that the objectively structured clinical examinations (OSCEs) could not be delivered in a Covid-safe way. In order to ensure student veterinary nurses were able to be assessed effectively and safely, the RCVS Veterinary Nurses (VN) Council approved an alternative assessment method for awarding organisations and universities to utilise.

    The alternative to OSCEs, called the Patient-based Assessment, involves building up a small portfolio of case reports and supporting evidence to prove how those who use this assessment method meet Day One Competencies and Skills. Once this has been signed-off and submitted, students using this assessment method will undertake a detailed and structured discussion about their involvement with the cases they have described. The outcome of the discussion will determine whether students can be awarded their licence to practise qualification and subsequently apply to join the RCVS Register of Veterinary Nurses.

    This alternative assessment method was initially available whilst Ofqual had implemented the Extra-ordinary Regulatory Framework (ERF) for assessments which were due to place between March and July 2020. However, as the UK has continued to see further peaks in infection rates, Ofqual has extended the ERF to cover academic year 2020/21, allowing alternative assessments to be utilised if required. Whilst it is anticipated that universities and awarding organisation will utilise a Covid-safe OSCE methodology, this may not be feasible in all situations and educational providers are reminded that the Patient-based Assessment is available for use.

    The handbook including detailed information about the criteria and process for the Patient-based Assessment has been published on our website and we would recommend all student veterinary nurses read it to gain a clear understanding of how the assessment method will work.

    The RCVS veterinary Nursing Department can be contacted on VNPBA@rcvs.org.uk.

    Read the news release. 

    NB We have also published advice about clinical placements - please read FAQ 9

    Last reviewed: 20 April 2021

  • We recognise that remote approval and quality monitoring activities will reduce the risk of Coronavirus transmission to college staff, training practice staff, students and the public.

    Utilisation of desk-based activities and video-conferencing technology should be considered during this unique time.

    Where remote centre or training practice approval has taken place, we would expect a follow-up visit in person once the coronavirus outbreak is under control, in line with the prevailing government advice.

    Contact the VN team:  vetnursing@rcvs.org.uk / 020 7202 0788

    NB This guidance was first published on 27 March and reviewed on 2 June. The situation will be reviewed again in 8 weeks' time.

    Last updated: 14 December 2020

  • In light of the UK Government’s advice on reducing transmission through social distancing measures, as well as a number of travel bans being put in place on an international level, we have made the decision to postpone the 2020 diet of the Statutory Membership Examination.

    We are exploring options for running the written component of the examination remotely, whilst also ensuring that appropriate security measures are in place to ensure the integrity of the examination, with the aim of carrying this out during the summer of 2020. 

    Due to the suspension of teaching at all UK veterinary schools, the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) component will also be postponed. We are working closely with the venue to secure new dates for the end of 2020.

    Our Education Team is supporting all 2020 Statutory Examination candidates with regular updates, and can be contacted on rcvsexam@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7965 1104.

    Last updated: 31 March 2020

  • The UK wide temporary relaxation allowing supply of veterinary medicines away from registered veterinary practice premises (RVPP), inaccessible due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ended on 31 August 2020.

    However, in view of the continuing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, effective from 1 September 2020, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) is allowing the supply of medicines from temporary premises where:

    • Veterinary practice premises are located in an area in which local lockdown measures have been implemented (the VMD has confirmed that this also applies to national lockdowns); or
    • A veterinary surgeon needs to self-isolate as they have tested positive for the virus or due to contact tracing.


    To notify the VMD and RCVS of any changes, please email inspections@vmd.gov.uk and registration@rcvs.org.uk

    For further information, please see the VMD guidance.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 25 January 2021

  • You should only undertake testing for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in animals where it is in the interest of the health and welfare of the animal and is in line with APHA guidance. It should not be a screening test.

    You should be mindful of the fact that SARS-CoV-2 appears to be a very rare cause of mild clinical disease; other differentials should be considered, investigated and ruled out as more likely causes of clinical signs before performing testing for SARS-CoV-2.

    The small number of animals worldwide which have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 to date have shown only mild respiratory signs and gastrointestinal distress. In the absence of a specific treatment for the virus, testing for SARS-CoV-2 has not, and should not, result in alteration to case management. You are therefore urged to carefully consider before undertaking any such test and the benefit to the specific animal.

    Where it is intended that clinical research projects are to be undertaken, for instance, utilising blood that is derived from clinical sampling, ie for a diagnostic or treatment purpose, or via non-invasive sampling, eg swabs, these should be the subject of appropriate ethical review. Otherwise, sampling to answer research investigations is regulated by The Home Office under The Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

    Collecting samples from animals must only be undertaken with due consideration to the current social distancing requirements. Further, as confirmed contact with a suspect human case is one of the criteria for considering testing (see APHA guidance) particular caution should be taken when handling the animal due to the risk of it acting as a fomite.

    If, after careful consideration, you feel that testing for SARS-CoV-2 is necessary, you should assess the types of samples that are needed, ie check with the lab before collection to get it right first time and avoid unnecessary handling or repeat sampling of the animal.

    You have a professional obligation to report positive SARS-Cov-2 test results to the competent authority - Office of the UK Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) in England and respective CVOs in the devolved administrations - to support the UK's international reporting obligations to the OIE.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last reviewed: 25 March 2021

  • The new UK border rules introduced due to coronavirus state that any person returning to the UK from overseas (excluding Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) must provide their journey and contact details, and self-isolate for 10 days after arrival.

    From 2 August, if you have been in a green or an amber list country (and have not been in or passed through a red list country, or France) in the 10 days before you arrive in the UK, and you have been fully vaccinated under the UK, EU or US vaccination programme (i.e. 14 days after your second vaccination has passed), you are no longer required to self-isolate.

    There are also exemptions in place for certain categories of workers in the UK. For each of the devolved nations, travel corridor exemptions are in place and are subject to review dependant on the level of risk for certain countries/territories.

    The quarantine exemptions are different for each of the regions of the UK. Please see below for details of the system in place in your area. In addition, please refer to your employer’s protocols for the interpretation of legislation for your specific work and personal situation.

    England

    Travel exemptions

    There are exemptions in place for some workers travelling from amber and red list countries, including certain veterinary surgeons, where they have travelled to the UK in the course of their work or otherwise to commence or resume work, as follows:

    • Veterinary surgeons involved in the food supply chain, and
    • Official Veterinarians (OVs) working on official controls at the border

    Those veterinary surgeons involved in the food supply chain are exempt under the following guideline, with the food supply being covered under ‘goods’:

    a worker with specialist technical skills, where those specialist technical skills are required for essential or emergency works or services (including commissioning, maintenance, and repairs and safety checks) to ensure the continued production, supply, movement, manufacture, storage or preservation of goods

    In addition, there are exemptions for qualified persons and responsible persons for human and veterinary medicines, clinical trials, clinical investigations and pharmacovigilance.

    The full list of exemptions is available on the English government website.

    Wales

    Travel exemptions

    There are exemptions in place for certain veterinary professionals as follows:

    • Those involved in the production, supply, movement, manufacture, storage or preservation of goods;
    • Those involved in veterinary medicines for the purposes of clinical trials; and
    • Those involved in veterinary medicines for the purposes of quality assurance


    Please refer to the full list of exemptions on the Welsh government website.

    Scotland

    Travel exemptions

    Please note that for people travelling to Scotland there are some differences from the exemptions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, namely, there are no quarantine exemptions for veterinary professionals:

    • Registered health or care professionals travelling to the UK to provide essential healthcare, including where this is not related to coronavirus - will need to self-isolate for 10 days if you are staying in Scotland;
    • Frequent travellers for work: if you live in the UK but work in another country and travel between the UK and country of work at least once a week; and/or you live outside the UK but work in the UK and travel between your country of residence and the UK at least once a week - will need to self-isolate for 10 days if you are staying in Scotland.


    Please refer to the Scottish government website.

    Northern Ireland

    Travel exemptions

    The categories of veterinary professionals exempt from quarantine mirror those exempt for England, namely:

    • Veterinary surgeons involved in the food supply chain; and
    • Qualified persons and responsible persons for human and veterinary medicines, clinical trials, clinical investigations and pharmacovigilance.


    Please refer to the full list of exemptions on the NI government website.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last reviewed: 05 August 2021

  • Government guidance on mandatory face coverings is different for each of the nations within the UK. Please see below for details of the system in place in your country.

    In addition, please refer to your employer’s protocols for the interpretation of legislation for your specific work situation, and be mindful of any specific personal health factors.

    England

    Update (29 November 2021): following the Prime Minister's statement on 27 November 2021, we have today published this latest news update, and will be updating the following guidance as soon as possible.

     

    From 20 July 2021 there is no longer a legal requirement to wear face coverings in all indoor settings where you are likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet, including veterinary services, zoos, aquariums, visitor farms and storage and distribution facilities. Businesses can ask their employees and customers to wear face coverings. Please follow the latest government guidance on face coverings including exemptions on wearing face coverings.

    Veterinary professionals are advised that they should follow their practices’ policies relating to occupational workwear and PPE.

    Please see the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) guidance on working safely during coronavirus for further information.

    Scotland

    In Scotland, it is mandatory to wear face coverings in retail shops, supermarkets, on public transport, aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms and any other tourist, heritage or cultural site.

    In other situations and workplace settings, the Scottish government confirms that employers should continue to follow the workplaces guidance and should endorse and support staff to wear face coverings in all areas of the workplace, including those mandated by law, and to follow best practice in the use of face coverings. 

    Please see the Scottish government guidance.

    Wales

    Face coverings became mandatory for all indoor public places in Wales from 14 September 2020. Please see the Welsh government guidance.

    Northern Ireland

    Since 10 August, the NI government made it mandatory to wear face coverings in certain indoor settings such as shops and shopping centres, in addition to wearing face coverings on public transport. Please see the NI government guidance.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk / 020 7202 0789

    Last reviewed: 29 November 2021

  • In response to the UK Chief Veterinary Officer’s confirmation today [27 July 2020] that on 22 July, a domestic cat was the first animal in the UK to test positive for Covid-19, there is no change to government guidance on the testing of animals for Covid-19. 

    Despite the fact that this is the first confirmed case of coronavirus animal infection in the UK, there is no evidence that the animal was involved in the transmission of the disease to humans nor is there evidence that other domestic animals are able to transmit the virus to humans. The cat and its owners have since made a full recovery.

    Public Health England has issued advice in line with general coronavirus guidance to keep washing hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.

    Pet owners should be directed to the latest government guidance on how to continue to care for their animals during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Please refer to the BVA website for further advice for pet owners with confirmed or suspected Covid-19.

    For more information on your professional obligations regarding testing animals for Covid-19 and your reporting requirements, please refer to FAQ 22.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last reviewed: 25 March 2021

  • Government tracing programmes across the UK are different for each of the four nations. Please see below for details of the system in place in your area.

    Each of the four nations have launched separate contact tracing programmes to avoid blanket national lockdown restrictions and to help facilitate local lockdown situations to target the virus. Each programme will ask those who test positive for Covid-19 to provide contact details for the people that they have been in recent contact with and contact tracers will notify each of those persons to self-isolate for 10 days.

    For veterinary professionals, if you are identified as having been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, but at that time you were wearing the minimum required PPE as recommended by Public Health England (gloves, apron, a fluid repellent surgical face mask and eye protection), you would be considered to have had adequate protection against transmission and should not be advised to self-isolate.

    However, given that in most circumstances where veterinary workers are identified as contacts, whilst you may have been wearing a face covering, this may not have been whilst wearing the minimum required PPE, and so you will be advised to self-isolate. If you are advised to self-isolate, and this would cause an impact on the provision of veterinary services, the incident can be discussed with the local Public Health England Health Protection Team who will decide whether a local risk assessment is warranted. Please refer to your employer’s protocols in the first instance.

    NHS Test and Trace QR system

    Whilst veterinary practices are not required to collect information via the QR code scanning system for the NHS Track and Trace programme, practices may consider implementing this system as part of the public health effort to contain the spread of coronavirus. This service is only available in England and Wales. Please see below for further information regarding the programme relevant for each nation:

    England

    See details of tracing programmes in England

    Scotland

    See details of tracing programmes in Scotland

    Wales

    See details of tracing programmes in Wales

    Northern Ireland

    See details of tracing programmes in Northern Ireland

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk / 020 7202 0789

    Last reviewed: 25 March 2021

  • We have published a joint statement with the University of Surrey School of Veterinary Medicine for final-year students at Surrey vet school.

    Contact the Education Team: education@rcvs.org.uk / 020 7202 0791

    Last updated: 5 May 2021

  • On 22 July, the UK government announced as part of step 4 of its roadmap that people who are double jabbed or aged over 18 would no longer need to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case. The date this comes into effect varies between the nations.

    The latest guidance for each nation is set out below where available – please click on the drop-down below that is relevant to your nation.

    England

    From Monday 16 August, double vaccinated adults will no longer be required to self-isolate, as long as they received their final dose of an MHRA-approved vaccine as part of the UK vaccination programme at least 14 days prior to contact with a positive case.

    Double jabbed individuals and under 18s who are identified as close contacts by NHS Test and Trace will be advised to take a PCR test as soon as possible to check if they have the virus and to check for variants of concern. People can order a PCR home test online or by calling 119, or going to a test site.

    As double jabbed people identified as close contacts are still at risk of being infected, people are advised to consider other precautions such as wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces, and limit contact with other people, especially with anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable. They will not be required to self-isolate while they wait for the results of the PCR test.

    Further information is available on the government’s website

    Wales

    From 7 August 2021, those who have been in close contact with a positive case but are fully vaccinated will no longer need to self-isolate. Ten days of self-isolation will still be required for people who test positive or have symptoms.

    Further information on current self-isolation rules can be found here on the Welsh government’s website.

    Scotland

    From 9 August 2021, all fully vaccinated people are exempt and will no longer need to self-isolate.

    Further information regarding the critical workers exemption is available on the Scottish government’s website.

    Northern Ireland

    From Monday 16 August, people who are fully vaccinated will no longer need to self-isolate for 10 days if someone they have been in close contact with tests positive for Covid-19. Instead, they should get a PCR test on day two and day eight of the 10 day period. People who are not fully vaccinated will still need to self-isolate for 10 days.

    Further information on the current self-isolation rules is available on the NI government’s website.

    Please refer to FAQ 5 regarding protecting staff and clients in practices via the use of PPE, Test and Trace and workplace coronavirus testing. Please read the government’s guidance for employers and businesses in England (see guidance for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland).

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 16 August 2021