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Rules for the vaccinated and unvaccinated in NSW optometry practices from 11 October

NSW optometry sydney

New rules requiring optometrists and practice staff to be fully vaccinated to continue working in Greater Sydney came into effect Monday 11 October, with major restrictions imposed on unvaccinated staff and even patients.

With more than 70% of the state’s over-16 population now fully vaccinated (double jabbed), Optometry NSW/ACT has released a comprehensive set of new rules after meeting with NSW Health on Thursday 7 October.

Among the major changes, staff in Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains, Wollongong, Shellharbour, Central Coast) who are not double vaccinated, or who do not hold a medical exemption, are not permitted to work and will need to take paid or unpaid leave until around the start of December.

In regional NSW, (excluding ACT), all staff must have had at least one dose already and have a booking for a second dose, which must be received by 1 November.

Restrictions are also being placed on unvaccinated patients who won’t be able to conduct general retail browsing in optometry practices, in many cases.

Additionally, if businesses wish to continue operating under the old rules (seeing only essential patients and not open for general retail) then staff are not required to be vaccinated. Requirements for vaccination apply only to premises which have re-opened for general retail and routine care. However, the rule applies to the premises, and practices can’t have some staff on ‘old rules’ and others performing routine care.

Main points from the Optometry NSW/ACT announcement below:

Staff in optometry practices

Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains, Wollongong, Shellharbour, Central Coast)
All staff must be double-vaccinated or hold a medical exemption.

This includes both professional and clerical/retail staff. Staff who are not double vaccinated or exempt are not permitted to work. They may take paid or unpaid leave until the full opening of the economy, currently anticipated to be 1 December 2021 or until they receive their 2nd vaccine dose.

Regional NSW (exc ACT) (all areas not noted above)
All staff must have had at least one dose of vaccine and have a booking for the second dose. Must receive second dose by 1 November or hold a medical exemption.

This includes both professional and clerical/retail staff. Staff who have not had at least one dose of vaccine or are exempt are not permitted to work. They may take paid or unpaid leave until the full opening of the economy, currently anticipated to be 1 December 2021 or until they receive their first vaccine dose. Staff who do not receive their second vaccine dose by 1 November will, at that stage, not be permitted to work. They may then take paid or unpaid leave until the full opening of the economy, currently anticipated to be 1 December 2021 or until they have their second dose.

Patients in optometry practices

Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains, Wollongong, Shellharbour, Central Coast)
Patients and retail customers who are double-vaccinated

Patients or retail customers who are double vaccinated may attend the practice as normal for both professional services and retail. Retail browsing is permitted. Patients who are not double-vaccinated may be seen for essential eye care and for related essential retail, which will include limited browsing (eg to select new spectacles).

However general retail browsing is not permitted for unvaccinated patients. Retail-only customers who are not double-vaccinated may only be seen for essential purchases (eg sunglasses, solutions etc). However general retail browsing is not permitted for unvaccinated customers.

Regional NSW (exc ACT)
Patients and retail customers who are double-vaccinated

Patients or retail customers who are double vaccinated may attend the practice as normal for both professional services and retail. Retail browsing is permitted. Patients who are not double-vaccinated may be seen for essential eye care and for related essential retail, which will include limited browsing (eg to select new spectacles). However general retail browsing is not permitted for unvaccinated patients. Retail-only customers who are not double-vaccinated may only be seen for essential purchases (eg sunglasses, solutions etc). However general retail browsing is not permitted for unvaccinated customers

Additional key points

  • All staff, patients and retail customers must check into the practice using QR codes. This applies right across NSW including regional areas.
  • Practices must check the vaccination status of anyone entering the premises
  • Everyone working in or visiting an “indoor setting” must wear a mask at all times.
  • Optometrists and patients are permitted to remove masks where necessary as part of an eye examination.
  • There is a limit of one person/4sqm in optometry practices across NSW. Staff are not included in the density count.

The full Optometry NSW/ACT announcement can be found here.

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