Coronavirus update – 27 March
Businesses permitted to stay open
The Regulations which came into force at 1pm on Thursday (26th March) exempt “pet shops”, “agricultural supplies shop”, and “veterinary surgeons” from the general closure instructions to retail stores, and these types of retail stores may stay open.
There is no reference to equine stores as being permitted to stay open, despite requests to DEFRA from AMTRA and AHDA that all RAMA/SQP businesses be exempted.
Additionally, all retail businesses (including equine businesses) may continue to operate by making deliveries or otherwise providing services in response to orders received—
• through a website, or otherwise by online communication [email, etc.]
• by telephone, including orders by text message
• by post
Such businesses must close any premises which are not required to carry out its business or provide its services as permitted above, and must not admit any person to its premises who is not required to carry on its business or provide its service as permitted above.
If staying open, businesses should do so in such a way as to protect the health of employees and customers, implementing the social distancing advice of government. It would be sensible, and recommended by AMTRA, for such opening to be limited to urgent supplies of key necessities for animal health and welfare (such as medicines, food, bedding), not for everything normally supplied.
Existing rules on involvement of the RAMA/SQP still apply, as do record-keeping requirements, and considerations such as keeping appropriate storage conditions for medicines.
If the only available RAMA/SQP is self-isolating, that creates another issue in the current rules, since the RAMA is currently required to supervise the allocation of stock to customer. That requirement also limits the possibility for the RAMA to be working from home thus limiting the number of people on the business premises.
Until and unless VMD changes those rules, the RAMA is still responsible for the prescription and supply and therefore must:
• be the person that has the conversation/consultation with the animal owner;
• be the person that makes the prescribing decision;
• be satisfied that the person handing over or dispatching the prescribed product is competent to do so.
We understand proposals to address this point and allow remote prescribing, in certain circumstances and with appropriate safeguards, will be coming from VMD soon, probably on Monday 30th March, and we’ll update you when we know more.
In the light of government advice on coronavirus, we cancelled all AMTRA exams until the end of April a couple of weeks ago – and obviously measures have become much stricter since then. We haven’t yet made a decision for exams taking place in May and afterwards – but realistically it seems that further cancellations or postponements are likely.
For the avoidance of doubt, if we do have to cancel exams, then the normal 24-month window to sit any exams without additional charge will be extended.
We will let people booked on those exams know as soon as a decision is reached. Further exams will be scheduled eventually, but we don’t anticipate this happening until we have a reasonably clear idea as to when movement and gathering restrictions might start to be lifted.