With the end of “Lockdown 2”, different parts of the UK economy will be opening at different rates. In England, the country is divided into Tiers, with the strictest (Tier 3) not looking very different from full lockdown. So, will the vets still be open?
Well, the good news is that if your vet was open in Lockdown 2, then they will still be open in Tier 3. However, the services they offer might still be limited.
In other parts of the UK, different guidelines apply, so lets take a look at the current guidance. Remember, this might change really rapidly as new regulations are released.
England is divided into Tiers. However, the RCVS (the UK veterinary regulator) has set out standardised guidance for vets across all the Tiers, as the government considers veterinary practices to be essential services. In fact, vets are not otherwise mentioned in Government guidance.
Under the current guidelines, vets will see emergencies in person, and any treatments required for food producing animals. Other treatments or appointments will depend on the risk involved, whether animal welfare would be compromised, and whether they can be dealt with or assessed by video consultation. However, if needed, they will see patients (although perhaps not you – just your pet, especially in Tier 3).
Although there are some differences, similar basic regulations applied this morning in Wales – see the flowchart here. However, this is a very fast moving situation!
Scotland is also divided into Levels; under Covid Protection Levels 0-3, the situation is much the same as in Wales. In Level 4, vets are permitted to remain open but have additional restrictions to ensure staff safety. Although the flowchart is similar, expect vets to be much more cautious in Level 4 areas in whether they will see patients in person, or whether they try other options first.
Northern Ireland is now under a Circuit Breaker lockdown. However, veterinary services do not seem to be affected by this, and vets are permitted to stay open. However, it is likely that, as in Scotland’s Level 4 areas, vets will be more cautious in seeing patients than usual.
The bottom line…
Yes, the vets are still open. But most vets are being very careful, trying to keep you and their staff safe. So expect the altered working practices – collections from the car park, phone conversations, and video appointments – to be even more important as we go into the New Year.
If your pet really needs a vet, then definitely make an appointment! But if it’s something that will wait, perhaps give them a ring and have a chat before booking in?