Pharmacies should “think carefully” before insisting that any patients entering the premises wear a face covering, the PSNC has warned.
Commenting on the new Face Coverings regulations that came into force in England on Friday, the PSNC said that while contractors’ terms of service allow them to refuse to issue prescriptions to individuals who commit a criminal offence, “they must think carefully about the appropriateness of resorting to enforcement options”.
The negotiator explained: “If a person is not wearing a face covering, it may be difficult to determine if a relevant exemption applies, and in any event the health needs of the patient or customer should also be considered.”
Individuals who cannot wear a mask due to any physical or mental illness or impairment are judged to have a reasonable excuse under the new regulations.
PSNC said: “The liability for wearing a face covering is with the individual, not the retailer.
“Contractors may want to use the posters and social media statics which are available in PHE’s Campaign Resource Centre to help remind patients of the requirement.”
A number of pharmacy businesses have said that while staff may ask customers to wear a face covering, enforcement measures are not advised.
LloydsPharmacy recently told staff not to “insist or enforce the rule” where customers refuse to wear a face covering, and to “continue to serve the customer as normal” while maintaining social distancing.
Meanwhile, Public Health England’s new recommendations for primary and community healthcare providers say that all providers must ensure that care settings are “Covid-secure”, with social distancing, decontamination and hygiene measures in place.
However, it is recommended that staff wear face masks in circumstances where a care setting cannot be “delivered as Covid-19 secure through all other means”.
Type I and Type II surgical masks are recommended for pharmacy staff, though Type IIR masks may also be used if they are more readily available “and there are no supply issues for their use as PPE”.