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Community pharmacy owners have been advised to ask their members of staff to continue wearing face coverings even after July 19, the so-called ‘freedom day’.

Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has called on contractors employers “to show leadership” and make the wearing of face masks mandatory in pharmacies as cases of Covid-19 continue to rise.

Mark Pitt, director of defence services at the PDA, said: “We are still in the middle of a pandemic and employers will be held to account if they do not ensure a safe workplace. This is a critical time for pharmacy employers to demonstrate leadership and maintain the requirements for safety measures, including mask-wearing, in their pharmacies.

“A consistent approach across the profession will help keep pharmacies a safe healthcare environment for patients and staff alike.”

Meanwhile, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has stopped short of asking pharmacies to make wearing of face coverings mandatory but has asked pharmacy owners to “carefully consider” how best they can continue to meet their health and safety obligations to protect patients and staff “by ensuring Covid-safe environments” in their premises.

Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC, said: “Pharmacies are healthcare settings where pharmacy teams are providing face-to-face care, often to people who are clinically vulnerable.

“One of the key principles of our standards for registered pharmacies is that the environment and condition of the premises from which pharmacy services are provided, and any associated premises, safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public.

“We would ask pharmacy owners to carefully consider how best they can continue to meet the standards and their ongoing health and safety obligations in order to protect patients and the public and staff, once some Covid-19 safety measures are no longer a legal requirement.

“We would also ask all members of the public to be respectful of pharmacy teams and other people visiting the pharmacy, by continuing to comply with any measures that pharmacies keep in place relating to social distancing, wearing of face coverings or other arrangements designed in the interests of patient and staff safety.”

Regulators in Scotland and Wales have already mandated face masks and other measures in health and social care even after July 19.

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