8 September 2021

Here's an update now that the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 11) 2021 is available, meaning we can clarify the legal requirements for levels 2 and 4. This is a brief summary of key requirements and you may need to do your own research (or contact us) if you need more detail on any point.

Contact tracing at all levels

  • Workplaces (including veterinary clinics) must display a QR code by the main entrance.
  • Workplaces must have other record-keeping systems and processes in place to enable contact tracing of everyone aged 12 and over who enters the workplace. If the alternative record keeping system is only used for contact tracing (i.e. is not clinical records), records must be kept for 60 days and then disposed of.

Travel between or through alert level areas

  • Workers travelling to go to, or carry out, veterinary work can still cross the alert level borders.
  • In some circumstances, including going to or returning from work, passing through the alert level 4 area is permitted, provided it’s necessary.
  • Anyone crossing the boundary for work purposes must carry evidence of their purpose of travel and the location of their destination.
  • Workers crossing the boundary must also carry evidence of having had a COVID-19 test in the last 7 days or evidence from a doctor who examined them in the last 7 days that a COVID-19 test was inappropriate and the person did not show COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Businesses must facilitate testing and examination of workers who have to cross the boundary. This means, ensuring workers are not required to cross the boundary unless they have evidence of having had a COVID-19 test in the last 7 days and not preventing workers from getting tested during working hours.

Alert level 4 requirements

The rules for alert level 4 remain the same. In summary:

  • People should stay at home except for essential travel.
  • The 1 metre distancing rule applies for workers in veterinary clinics.
  • Clients should not be allowed inside.
  • Face coverings are not specifically required inside veterinary clinics but practices can choose to make this a requirement.
  • Businesses must have systems and processes to minimise the travel of workers between districts and alert level areas and to mitigate the risks of spreading COVID-19 by those who do travel.

Alert level 2 requirements

  • Visitors to a business must comply with the 2 metre distancing rule, as far as possible.
  • Workers must comply with the 1 metre distancing rule, as far as possible.
  • The Order does not impose face covering requirement for people entering veterinary clinics. However, practices may choose to make this a condition of entry (in which case displaying a sign to this effect at the entrance is advisable) and doing so can help meet their health and safety responsibilities to their workers.
  • Businesses must have systems and processes to maintain compliance with the 1 metre (for workers) and 2 metre (for visitors) distancing rules and to mitigate the risks of spreading COVID-19 (e.g. through regular surface cleaning and using plastic barriers).
  • If the distancing rules cannot be followed because there are activities that can’t be undertaken without physical contact or close proximity between people (e.g. if clients need to be in a consult room that is too small for distancing or have to hold their animal while it’s examined), the clinic becomes a close proximity business. This would mean that staff would be required to wear a face covering when when working with clients.
  • Businesses must have systems and processes in place to minimise travel of workers between alert level areas, as far as possible, and mitigate the risks of spreading COVID-19 for those who do travel.

Veterinary telemedicine at alert level 2

We have updated our standard on veterinary medicines and authorising at level 2 (available here). While telemedicine can still be used to authorise medicines, it should not be the default at level 2. The guidance sets out a risk assessment process to follow when deciding whether to use telemedicine to authorise as well as some circumstances when doing so might be warranted.

Information and support

We’ve updated our COVID-19 page to include information and links to resources for support for individuals and businesses. As the pandemic drags on, it remains essential that we look after ourselves and seek help when we need it. So, please do check it out.