Coronavirus update – 20 May

AMTRA exams

All AMTRA exams until mid-July have been cancelled. We will keep the situation under review for subsequent exams.

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 we can do so safely: we do not want to schedule further exams, only to have to cancel them again.

Covid-19 testing

Since RAMAs fall within the UK government definition of essential workers, they are entitled to participate in the government’s Covid-19 testing programme in England. The policy is less clear in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who have their own definitions.

Remote prescribing

In view of the unique challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the VMD has adopted a changed approach to the enforcement of the requirements on prescribing and authorisation of supply. This is now in place until 31 May 2020, and will be reviewed by then – given the current uncertainties, this date may be amended by further notice from time to time.

In practice, this means that during the current period RAMAs will be allowed to prescribe and authorise supply remotely, provided certain procedures are observed. The RAMA is still responsible for the prescription and supply. More details…

Temporary premises

VMD has relaxed the enforcement of specific provisions of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations to allow a RAMA to supply veterinary medicines from temporary premises. Wholesale dealers will be allowed to supply veterinary medicines to RAMAs at such temporary premises. This will last until 31 May when VMD will review it.

Businesses permitted to stay open

The new Regulations exempt “pet shops”, “agricultural supplies shops”, 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.

Other businesses

Additionally, all retail businesses (including equine businesses) may continue to operate by making deliveries or otherwise providing services in response to orders received—

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.

Businesses not offering goods for sale (for example that offer services such as worm egg counting) may continue to trade unless the type of business is listed in the Regulations as having to close.

General notes

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. Businesses may choose to focus on urgent supplies of key necessities for animal health and welfare (such as medicines, food, bedding), not for everything normally supplied.

Authorisation to travel

A handful of people have asked AMTRA for a written document giving them authorisation to travel for business, in case of being stopped by the police. We are hopeful that the initial over-zealous announcements being made by some police forces have now moderated into a sensible approach which implements the law, and that there should be no need for such a statement. In any case, AMTRA cannot authorise travel – there is no such arrangement in UK law. However, we have prepared a statement summarising the relevant bits of the law which may be helpful in such circumstances, and can provide a personalised copy for you to show – please request via [email protected]