24th March 2020

Veterinary practices to remain open only for emergency care and to maintain food supply chain
Veterinary practices are remaining open to focus on emergency care and urgent
treatment for animals while reducing face-to-face contact between staff and clients as extensively as possible, following Boris Johnson’s announcement of new restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Under the measures announced by the Prime Minister last night (Monday 23 March), everyone is being instructed to stay at home and only go out for a small number of essential reasons including shopping for basic necessities and any medical need.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA), which represents over 18,000 members in the UK, has advised that veterinary practices can be considered essential services under the new measures, as we deliver emergency care and work to maintain the food supply chain. However, in the interests of safety and complying with government advice, vet practices should only be delivering emergency treatment and urgent care and should be cancelling routine and non-urgent appointments. Animal owners should contact their veterinary practice for advice.

Vets are also insisting that animal owners comply with strict social distancing measures in order to keep clients and colleagues safe. For animal owners, this will include calling the practice ahead of time for advice and may mean waiting outside while your animal is seen and treated. Owners must avoid contact and keep at least two metres apart from other people at all times.

Daniella Dos Santos, BVA President, said: “It’s incumbent on all of us do everything we can to curb the spread of Covid-19 and follow the government’s #StayHomeSaveLives instructions. For vets, that means limiting our provision to emergency and urgent care and working to maintain food production from farm to fork.

“Practices are following strict social distancing measures and asking owners to make sure they follow the same steps in the interests of everyone’s safety. Please call your vet before attending a practice to get up to date advice on what measures they have in place to safely treat your pet in an emergency.

“We appreciate that some pet owners may be frustrated that routine appointments are being cancelled, but these are vital measures to curb non-essential travel and contact and keep everyone as safe as possible during this challenging period.

“I’d like to pay tribute to all my veterinary colleagues across the country who are working hard to maintain their vital services, both for companion animals and in making sure  the UK has a steady supply of food produced to high standards of health, welfare and safety.”

The BVA is the largest membership community for the veterinary profession in the UK. We represent the views of over 18,000 vets and vet students on animal health and welfare, and veterinary policy issues to government, parliamentarians and key influencers in the UK and EU.