In response to rapidly rising Covid infection levels being driven in part by a new variant of the virus, governments across the UK have announced new and tighter restrictions:
- the UK government has introduced a new Tier 4 ‘stay at home’ category, and parts of England will enter this from Sunday 20 December
- the Welsh Government has announced an all-Wales lockdown will be brought forward to begin at midnight tonight
- the Scottish Government has announced a cross-border travel ban will be strictly enforced throughout the festive period with no cross-border travel other than “the most essential purposes”
- the Northern Ireland Executive had previously announced (17 December) that NI is due to start a new lockdown on 26 December
A joint statement from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and British Veterinary Association:
“The sudden introduction of these new restrictions signifies the severity of the situation and it’s essential that the veterinary professions continue to play their part in tackling the spread of the virus.
“Veterinary practices have been able to stay open throughout the pandemic thanks to strict adherence to biosecurity and social/physical distancing measures. Practices will be able to stay open but should continue to assess and triage cases in the context of the restrictions, and RCVS/BVA guidance.
“In England we anticipate the guidance for veterinary practices in Tier 4 will be similar to the rules during the national lockdown in November. For Wales and Northern Ireland we are consulting with the governments.
“The cross-border travel ban between Scotland and England recognises that travel for animal welfare purposes is essential and decisions on seeing clients from across the border should be based on veterinary clinical judgement.
“We are in contact with the Chief Veterinary Officers across the UK on the details to make sure that our advice and guidance is in line with government rules. The RCVS will be issuing updated guidance as soon as possible.
“We recognise that this is a difficult time for veterinary practices, not only in managing changing rules around Covid but also as we approach the busy Christmas period.
“We thank animal owners for their understanding and ask them to continue to respect their vets’ decisions at this time. The range of services available will vary between practices so that vets can work in Covid-safe ways to keep their colleagues and clients safe.”