COVID-19 Network Resilience

Maintaining access to pharmacy services – opening hours and temporary closures

The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and exceptional measures may be required to ensure patient and public safety, as well as the safety and welfare of the pharmacy team.

The workload and other pressures on community pharmacy during the third phase of the outbreak may be high in certain areas of the country, with staff illness and absence, additional services to provide such as the pharmacy delivery service to shielded patients, and other deliveries to vulnerable patients and those isolating; and the continuing need to manage the ongoing new ways of working such as working behind screens, social distancing for staff, patients and customers and the use of PPE for patient interactions, as necessary. Please see the NHSE&I Pharmacy SOP, and PSNC guidance on business continuity and PPE, staff safety and security pages on the PSNC COVID hub.

Accordingly, the flexible provision of hours or services are in place in accordance with the emergency provisions of the NHS (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Service) Regulations 2013 to assist contractors to manage this workload and pressures.

The NHS Regulations provide that where the Secretary of State declares an emergency, relevant regulations are ‘activated’ and may be used by contractors, and the Pharmaceutical Services (Advanced and Enhanced Services and Emergency Declaration) Directions 2020 declared an emergency requiring the flexible provision of pharmaceutical services with effect from 27 March 2020. Direction 2 states that until [extended until 30th November 2020] NHS England must exercise its functions, or where it has discretion, to consider exercising its functions, under NHS regulations:

  • regulation 29(2) (contractors – relocation of premises)
  • regulation 61 (dispensing doctors)
  • paragraph 27 of Schedule 4, (contractors – temporary flexible provision of hours and or closures)
  • paragraph 17 of Schedule 5, and (appliance contractors)
  • paragraph 26(3) of Schedule 7 (LPS pharmacies)

PCC has issued a helpful briefing on the flexible provision of pharmaceutical services during the current pandemic, which can be found here.

Various dispensations and options for closed door working and the flexible provision of hours or services are in place in accordance with the emergency provisions of the NHS (Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Service) Regulations 2013. NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) may also require community pharmacies to open as it has done for recent Bank Holidays.

For more info on the following please click here to visit PSNC:

  • Flexible opening provisions
  • Temporary closures
  • Temporary relocation during an emergency
  • Maintaining pharmacy services during the outbreak (the emergency regulations)
  • Checklist for emergency closures
  • Amended models of care during the pandemic (hot sites)
  • Capacity changes and operational status reporting
  • 2020 Bank Holiday opening arrangements
  • 2021 Bank Holiday opening arrangements
  • Dispensing Doctors


Following the move of England to step 4 of the Government’s COVID-19 response on Monday (19th July 2021), NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) issued a letter to all primary care contractors outlining their continuing expectations across primary care in relation to access, infection prevention and control, and continuing contractual arrangements. Download a copy of the letter

The letter also confirms that the Community pharmacy in the context of coronavirus (COVID-19) (Version 4) standard operating procedure (SOP) that has been in place since March 2020 was withdrawn on 19th July 2021.

Find out more about the NHSE&I guidance: Arrangements for primary care from 19th July 2021

Info from NHS England:

Email-Changes to opening hours during COVID-19 pandemic

temporary_opening_hours_application_form_oct_2020_v2 – (002)

Outbreak reporting:

Please find below a revised IIMARCH letter and form for notifying and updating outbreaks of Covid-19 in NHS services:

NEY IIMARCH update letter – 29/10/20

IMARCH v3 October 2020 Form – 27/10/20

Info from NHS England:

NHS Email-Pharmacy process to manage cases & suspected cases of COVID-19

Pharmacy process final

Local COVID-19 Testing:

Click here to view our testing page

Test and Trace:

Click here for info and FAQs on NHS Test and Trace


Click here for info on what PPE to wear and ordering PPE supplies