Following calls from the College and other healthcare organisations NHS England has reminded the public that face masks will continue to be required in healthcare settings.

The legal requirement to wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces ended on Monday 19 July. Prior to this, a letter signed by the College alongside the British Medical Association and British Dental Association, among others, called on the Prime Minister to make face masks mandatory in healthcare settings.

NHS England then released a statement that explained its infection prevention control guidelines and hospital visiting guidance are set to remain in place for all staff and visitors to all healthcare settings, including optometric practices.

Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said: ‘Face coverings and social distancing measures will remain in place across healthcare settings. It is important for the public to continue to play their part when visiting NHS and care settings to help protect our staff and patients.’

College president, Colin Davidson, said: ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously affected the provision of eye care in primary and secondary care, and we, optometrists, did everything we could to minimise the risk of visual loss by maintaining essential eye care services.

‘We know how hard people have worked and how overwhelmed everybody across the health and care sector have been, and we cannot praise enough practitioners who have rapidly adapted their service delivery since the pandemic started, and the ingenuity displayed to continue to practice safely and effectively. Our responsibility now is to continue to ensure that all health and care staff receive the support and protection they deserve when providing care to their patients.’