COVID-19 Q&A: for the public

We have compiled answers to the questions we are being asked in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

Categorised by theme, use the links below to navigate to the relevant section.

Last updated 28 January 2022

Using pharmacy services during the COVID-19 pandemic

Safe Spaces 

Using pharmacy services during the COVID-19 pandemic

What social distancing measures are there in pharmacies?

Social distancing is the most effective protection against the spread of COVID-19. Please make sure you follow any social distancing measures put in place by the pharmacy.

Do people need to wear a face mask when going into a pharmacy?

We would ask all members of the public to be respectful of pharmacy teams and other people visiting pharmacies, by continuing to comply with measures that pharmacies have in place relating to wearing of face coverings, social distancing, or other arrangements designed in the interests of patient and staff safety.

Guidelines from the UK Health Security Agency on infection prevention control remain in place after Plan B restrictions are lifted, and so staff, patients and visitors in England will be expected to continue to follow social distancing rules and wear face coverings in all healthcare settings, including pharmacies.

In Scotland and Wales, it continues to be a requirement to wear face masks when going into a pharmacy.

Support for people experiencing domestic abuse

Are pharmacies taking part in the Safe Space initiative?

We are encouraging all pharmacies to consider becoming a Safe Space, to help people experiencing domestic abuse access vital support they may need.

Pharmacies are already playing a vital role in supporting the healthcare needs of patients and the public during the COVID 19 pandemic. With the availability of private consultation rooms, pharmacies are one of the few community spaces that are open with the facilities to support people who may be experiencing domestic abuse and need help.

Pharmacies can become a Safe Space today by following the simple steps on and email to notify them that you have become a Safe Space.

Pharmacies participating in the scheme will display a poster within the pharmacy. This poster encourages people needing help to go to the pharmacy counter and ask to use their consultation room.

What support will be provided?

People will be able to use the consultation room in the pharmacy to access dedicated support:

  • 24-hour National domestic abuse helpline: 0808 2000 247
  • Men’s advice line: 0808 801 032
  • Scotland - Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline (freephone 24/7): 0800 027 123
  • Wales - Live Fear Free Helpline (freephone 24/7): 0808 801 0800
  • Northern Ireland - Domestic and Sexual Abuse: 0808 802 141
  • Signposting to download free mobile app Bright Sky, which provides support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.

What pharmacies are offering the Ask for Ani scheme?

Over half of the pharmacies in the UK are offering the government backed domestic abuse Ask for ANI codeword scheme. 

The Ask for ANI scheme allows those at risk or suffering from abuse to discreetly signal that they need help and access support. By asking for ANI, a trained pharmacy worker will offer a private space where they can understand if the victim needs to speak to the police or would like help to access support services such as a national or local domestic abuse helplines. 

The codeword scheme complements the charity Hestia’s UK SAYS NO MORE Safe Spaces initiative by enabling pharmacy staff to offer immediate and emergency assistance