FHT Statement on coronavirus (COVID-19)

First published: 18 March 2020

Last updated: 15 April 2021 (19.30)

This statement has recently been updated. The areas highlighted indicate which sections have been added to or significantly modified since 9 and 12 April 2021.

PLEASE ALSO SEE OUR PREPARING TO RETURN TO PRACTICE GUIDELINES FOR MORE INFORMATION

Throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our advice to members has been to adhere to best practice and follow government regulations and guidelines, which continue to evolve on a regular basis. 

As your professional association, we fully appreciate the implications COVID-19 has had on both your clients and your therapy practice, and we will continue to offer our advice and support where we can, based on the latest information and guidance provided by the UK governments, NHS and other authorities. Please revisit this webpage regularly, as we will update it as and when new information and guidance becomes available.

Q. Can I currently treat clients in person and do any government restrictions apply?

This very much depends on the country and area where you are working, which is why we are strongly advising members to follow guidelines and announcements issued by their local government and authorities, which are being updated on a regular basis.

In England, businesses offering close contact services need to follow the government’s Guidance for keeping workers and clients safe in close contact services , which was last updated on 31 March. (Please note that if you provide treatments in certain settings, such as other people’s homes or a leisure centre, you will need to follow government guidance/restrictions for working in that particular context, too – for more information, see Working safely during coronavirus.)  <

government’s roadmap for easing COVID-19 restrictions in England, close contact (personal care) services in England can resume from 12 April 2021. Steam rooms and saunas must remain closed.

Those offering training in personal care services in private schools and colleges of further education can resume from 8 March, providing that all necessary government guidelines are adhered to, including guidance produced by the Department of Education.

In Wales, all therapists can return to work from 12 April, and must follow the Welsh government guidance for close contact services, which from 9 April, has been divided into two sets of guidance:

In terms of treatment restrictions in Wales, please note that the government ‘strongly advises’ practitioners not to carry out treatments on the face (in the ‘high risk zone’) for prolonged periods of time, unless wearing the right grade of PPE (a Fluid Resistant Surgical Face Mask, or ‘FRSM’; plus eye protection, in the form of goggles or a full face visor; plus disposable gloves and apron) and the practitioner has been trained in the use of PPE. In the Acupuncture, clinical and sports therapy services: coronavirus workplace guidance, as well as applying to face treatments, this also applies to ‘any treatment in the supine [upwards facing] position from the chest up, including the head, neck and shoulder girdle’ (see section 3.2).

If providing treatment to the scalp (eg. Indian head massage) or auricular treatments (eg. auricular therapy or earlobe piercing) in Wales, ‘these treatments can only be provided safely on the basis that the therapist must wear a Type II mask and a clear visor and the treatments can only be completed if the therapist works side by side or from the back of the head and avoids prolonged periods of activity in the high-risk zone (the area directly in front of a client’s eyes, nose and mouth) for the majority of the time that it takes to complete the treatments. For more information, including PPE requirements, please see the sections regarding PPE in the Welsh government’s Acupuncture, clinical and sports therapy services: coronavirus workplace guidance and Hair, beauty, holistic, tattoo and body piercing services: coronavirus workplace guidance.

While spas are permitted to reopen in Wales from the 12 April, this is for beauty and therapy treatments only. Spa gyms, hot tubs, spa pools, whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms and swimming pools must remain closed for now.

In Scotland, therapists must follow the government's guidance for close contact services.

With the exception of some of the islands, the majority of Scotland is currently in Protection Level 4, also referred to as ‘stay local’. In Protection Level 4, all close contact services (static or mobile) must close, with very limited exceptions. To learn more, please read the email we sent to members on 21 January 2021.

A number of the island area are in Protection Level 3, which the government will continue to review. In a Protection Level 3 area, close contact services from fixed premises are permitted, but not mobile therapy services. Find out which Protection Level applies in your area.  

On 16 March 2021, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the timetable for easing national restrictions in Scotland. As such, it was announced that all close contact services (except hairdressing and barbering, which reopened from 5 April) will be able to reopen on 26 April, conditional of supportive data. This includes mobile therapy services, which are currently restricted to areas in Protection Level 0 or 1. For more information, please see the Coronavirus (COVID-19): timetable for easing restrictions.

In terms of treatment restrictions in Scotland, any treatment that involves working in the high risk zone (in front of the face) can only be carried out if the service provider can do this from “the side of the face or behind the head”. For more information and guidance developed specifically for those offering close contact services in Scotland, please view this webpage on the Scottish government website. You can also read some FAQs about close contact services in Scotland here.

The government has also published some extra guidance for those providing mobile close contact services and a 'close contact services checklist' (see the dropdown tab for 'Supporting files' on their close contact services information page).

In Northern Ireland, those providing close contact services are to follow the government’s Keeping workers and clients safe during COVID-19 in close contact services. In terms of treatment restrictions, this guidance states, "Close contact services which require workers to be within the ‘highest risk zone’ of clients (defined as the area in front of the face where splashes and droplets from the nose and mouth, that may not be visible, can be present and pose a hazard from the client to the practitioner and vice versa), for the entire duration or the majority of the time the service is being provided, should not be resumed unless mitigating actions can be introduced in line with this guidance to make them safe."

On 15 April, Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster announced that close contact services will be able to reopen on 23 April. It is likely that the government's Keeping workers and clients safe during COVID-19 in close contact services will be updated in the near future, providing more detail and how to operate safely when returning to full practice.

ccording to information currently available on the NI Direct website, while these restrictions in Northern Ireland are in place, “close contact services, such as hairdressers, beauticians, make-up and nails, tattoo and piercing parlours, tanning shops, massage, electrolysis, well-being and holistic treatments […] are not permitted to operate. […] This also applies to those who provide mobile close contact services from their homes and in other people’s homes, those in retail environments, as well as those studying hair and beauty in vocational training environments. Exemptions apply for film and TV production; for services ancillary to medical, health and social care services; and sports massage and therapeutic services for elite athletes.”

We contacted the Department of the Economy in Northern Ireland for clarification regarding “services ancillary to medical, health and social care services”, and whether this might apply to close contact services offered by our members in certain circumstances. We were advised that “if the service is provided under the auspices of a GP or Health Trust procured package, then your members should be able to continue providing this service to clients, either in their own establishment or in the client’s domestic setting, subject to following the close contact services guidance/ PPE  requirements.” It is therefore FHT's understanding that members In Northern Ireland can continue to provide therapy services:

  • in a hospital or hospice, where the member works alongside statutory regulated health professionals, such as doctors and nurses, to help deliver the patient's overall care plan.
     
  • in a private setting, for example, a clinic, the client's home or the therapist's home, where the member has received a referral from a statutory regulated health professional, such as a doctor or physiotherapist. 
     
  • Sports massage therapy is also still permitted, if provided to an elite athlete, in any context ('elite athlete', as defined in the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020).

For more information, please refer to the NI Direct website.

Please be assured that where there are restrictions in place that require the closure of certain close contact services in different regions and countries, the FHT is working with the government to establish if there are specific services that members can continue to offer during those restrictions, and to ensure that ALL of our members can resume work as soon as possible. As and when we have any updates, we will of course let our members know.

Q. Where can I find out more information about restrictions in the area where I work?

Please see the following government webpages, which outline local and national restrictions currently in place in EnglandScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

When looking at restrictions that apply in the country or region where you work, some key things to look for include:

  • Any indication that close contact services or certain therapies are not permitted until further notice.
  • Whether you can continue to travel outside of your area for work purposes.
  • Whether there are restrictions on visiting certain venues/contexts where you would ordinarily provide treatments, eg. care homes.
  • Whether clients from an area outside of where you work can travel into your area, in case your country’s government is advising against this.
  • If shielding is being reintroduced in certain areas (the FHT strongly advises against treating clients who are shielding - see section 9 of FHT's preparing to return to practice guidelines)

If you typically travel to another country in order to provide treatments, or clients travel to you from another country, please check what restrictions are in place for that country, using the links at the top of this Q&A.

If you need further clarification after reading relevant government guidelines, we will of course help where we can.

Q. Is the government offering any financial support for businesses affected by COVID-19?

In the 2021 Budget, the Chancellor laid out some additional provisions for businesses affected by COVID-19. These include:

A fourth and fifth Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant (UK)

The fourth SEISS grant will cover the period February to April 2021and will be worth 80% of three months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500. The fourth grant can be claimed from late April and to be eligible, you must have filed a 2019-2020 Self Assessment tax return. All other eligibility criteria will remain the same as for the third SEISS grant. If you are eligible for the fourth grant, HMRC will contact you in mid-April to give you a date that you can make your claim from.

The fifth and final SEISS grant, covering May to September 2021, can then be claimed for in late July and the amount of grant you receive will be determined by your turnover (if it has fallen by 30% or more, you will continue to receive the full grant, worth 80% of three months’ average trading profits and capped at £7,500 – if it has fallen by less than 30%, you will receive a 30% grant, capped at £2,850).

Restart Grants and Discretionary Business Grants (England)

The government will provide ‘Restart Grants’ in England of up to £18,000 per premises for businesses providing personal care services that were impacted by COVID-19 and government restrictions (the amount available will depend on the rateable value of the business premises).

From 1 April, the government will also be providing local authorities in England with a £425 million top-up to the Additional Restrictions Grant funding, for those businesses that are not eligible for a Restart Grant. While local authorities can decide which businesses are eligible to apply, they have been encouraged by Paul Scully MP (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) and Nigel Huddleston MP (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) to consider those sectors whose businesses have been severely impacted by restrictions, which potentially includes mobile and self-employed therapists. For more information, see the government website and contact your local authority

Recovery Loan Scheme (UK)

The Recovery Loan Scheme will allow businesses of any size to access loans and other kinds of finance once the existing COVID-19 loan schemes close. Once received, the finance can be used for any legitimate business purpose, including growth and investment. The scheme launches on 6 April and is open until 31 December, subject to review. Loans will be available through a network of accredited lenders, whose names will be made available via the government website in due course.

Information about other forms of financial support, including the Coronavirus Job Extension Scheme and the VAT deferral new payment scheme – click the relevant links for more information.

For members in England, you can find more information about government financial support available here.

For members in Wales, you can find information about government financial support available here.

For members in Scotland, you can find more information about government financial support available here.

For members in Northern Ireland, you can find information about government financial support available here. For information about upcoming grants, click here.

Q. Is there a quick and simple way to find out if my therapy business is eligible for financial support from the government?

The government’s website has a quick and simple online support tool to help you find out what financial support is available for you and your business at www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder. It is important to note that on the second page, you will be asked, ‘How many employees does your business have?’ If you are self-employed, simply tick the top option (0-249 employees) as you will then be asked if you are self-employed a little bit further into the process. You can also update any of the answers you have already provided, using the handy links at the bottom of the page.

Q. Is the FHT lobbying the government to represent my interests as a professional therapist during COVID-19?

Throughout the pandemic, the FHT has been working hard to ensure our members' interests are being represented, both as an individual organisation and by working collaboratively with other stakeholders. Among other things, we have:

  • Provided feedback and guidance on draft government guidance for close contact services.
  • Provided statistics, information and case studies to different UK governments to highlight the valuable contribution our members make to health and wellbeing and to facilitate their return to work as quickly as possible.  
  • Written letters to various MPs and authorities, calling for urgent action and support for the industry and, in some cases, providing templates that could be used by our members.
  • Supported/launched petitions to represent the interests of our members and the therapy industry.
  • Spoken to Cabinet Officers and Ministers about the important role that professional therapists have to play in supporting those whose health has been adversely affected by the pandemic, which will simultaneously help to take pressure off the NHS.

As a core member of the Integrated Healthcare Collaborative, we have also supported letters sent to Health Ministers across the UK (12 February), asking them to grant dispensation for complementary, traditional and natural healthcare therapists and practitioners to support intensive care staff, and other key NHS frontline workers during current COVID-19 restrictions. This action has come following recent reports of high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety in intensive care staff (please click here for more information).

On 14 December, Claudia Beamish MSP sent a letter to Jeane Freeman MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, asking for clarification as to why mobile therapists in Scotland are unable to work in Protection Levels 2 and 3, while mobile hairdressers can continue to do so. Claudia also highlights in her letter the significant contribution that FHT members make to their clients’ health and wellbeing and states that “Continuing to cut off access to complementary and sports therapy treatments that can help to alleviate symptoms seems short sighted.”

On 13 November, the Beauty Industry Group (of which FHT is a member) sent a letter the Prime Minister urging the government to ensure that ALL close contact services across the industry can reopen when national restrictions are lifted in England on 2 December and the country is likely to revert to a 3-tier system. The same letter was also sent to the Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP at the Cabinet Office.

On 12 November, the FHT sent a letter to the First Minister, deputy First Minister and Minister for Health in Northern Ireland, asking for professional therapists to be recognised as essential workers when national restrictions are in place. 

On 9 November, the FHT sent a letter to the Rt Hon Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, asking for his support in ensuring that the inappropriate phrase ‘massage parlour’ is no longer used in legislation and Government communications, when referring to professional massage services. This matter has also been raised in various meetings with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and we are pleased to report that the phrase is now being increasingly substituted with ‘massage centres’ (search for the word ‘massage’ on this webpage, to see an example).

On 5 November, as a core member of the Integrated Healthcare Collaborative (IHC), we supported a letter to Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, asking for CAM professionals to be recognised as essential workers so that they can continue to work during Tier 3 lockdowns and above.

Q. When the government announces that I can re-open my business, what things do I need to consider?

To help members, the FHT has put together some Preparing to return to practice guidelines, outlining a number of areas that will need consideration. However, if your country’s government or local authority has issued guidance or advice on how to return to work safely, please follow this, as it obviously takes precedence over the FHT’s guidance. Click the following links to find the government guidance for providing close contact services in: EnglandWales (CAM and sports therapy / beauty therapy)Scotland and Northern Ireland. As the guidance for each country is subject to change, please ensure you keep an eye on these for any updates that will affect your practice. 

Q. When it’s safe for me to return to full practice, should I be wearing PPE?

As government guidelines regarding what type of PPE is considered appropriate may vary from country to country, we strongly advise members to look at sector-specific government guidelines for the country where they work.

For England, the government’s Guidance for keeping workers and clients safe in close contact services (Section 6) advises that practitioners are to wear a clear visor or goggles, in addition to a Type II face mask, to keep their clients safe. Type II face masks are medical face masks and available in two types: splash resistant (Type IIR, typically used in clinical settings) and non-splash resistant (Type II).

To mitigate the risk of infection, it also states (Section 1.1): "Unless crucial for the treatment, avoid skin to skin contact and use gloves where possible.” This guidance is open to interpretation and uses the phrases “unless crucial” and “where possible”. If you believe it is not possible to perform a particular treatment with gloves on, or that skin to skin contact is crucial for that treatment, then it is important that you highlight this within your risk assessment, along with what other measures you have put in place to mitigate the risk of cross-infection. For those who are wearing gloves, please be aware that latex or rubber gloves can degrade when working with oil (look for nitrile-based gloves instead, or others that will not degrade if using oil).

For Scotland, the government guidance for close contact services currently states that face coverings are mandatory for close contact services and that “a face covering can be a covering of any type, except a face shield, that covers the mouth and nose. It is recommended that it be made of cloth or other textiles and should be two, and preferably three, layers thick and fit snugly while allowing you to breathe easily”.

In Wales, the government guidance indicates that PPE requirements vary according to the type of close contact services/treatments being given, but as a minimum, therapists are currently required to wear a Type II face mask and visor (additional PPE is required if carrying out ‘high risk’ treatments, on or in front of the face). For more information, please see the government's Acupuncture, clinical and sports therapy services: coronavirus workplace guidance and Hair, beauty, holistic, tattoo and body piercing services: coronavirus workplace guidance.

In Northern Ireland, the government guidance requires those offering close contact services to wear a clear visor or goggles, in addition to a Type II face mask. In terms of gloves, the guidance for Northern Ireland states "Unless crucial for the treatment, change practices to avoid any potential skin to skin contact or use gloves where possible". If you believe skin to skin contact is crucial for the treatment and wearing gloves is not possible, then it is important that you highlight this within your risk assessment, along with what other measures you have put in place to mitigate the risk of cross-infection. For those who are wearing gloves, please be aware that latex or rubber gloves can degrade when working with oil (look for nitrile-based gloves instead, or others that will not degrade if using oil).

For guidelines from the Jersey government, please refer to their Advice for businesses (Wellbeing, cosmetic and beauty services). 

Q. Do my clients need to wear a mask?

In England, the government’s Guidance for keeping workers and clients safe in close contact services states that “face coverings are mandatory for customers visiting: nail, beauty, hair salons and barbers; massage centres; tattoo and piercing parlours. Face coverings should not be removed unless essential for a particular treatment – for example, for a treatment on the face area covered by the face covering. A face visor or shield may be worn in addition to a face covering but not instead of one. This is because face visors or shields do not adequately cover the nose and mouth, and do not filter airborne particles”.

For further clarification, we contacted the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and were advised that clients will also need to wear a face covering within a private treatment context, where complementary, beauty and sports treatments are given on a one-to-one basis, even if other people are not present.

If clients are unable to wear a face covering, eg. for health reasons or because it restricts their breathing when lying face down, this must be covered in the risk assessment and other mitigations put in place to reduce cross-infection. For guidance on face coverings, including a list of who is exempt from wearing a face covering in England, please click here.

In Scotland, clients are required to wear a face covering. Please refer to their 'Close contact services checklist' (available as a Word document under 'Supporting files' on the government website).

In Wales, clients are required to wear a face covering. For more information, please see sections 3.4 and 3.6 in both Acupuncture, clinical and sports therapy services: coronavirus workplace guidance and Hair, beauty, holistic, tattoo and body piercing services: coronavirus workplace guidance

In Northern Ireland, clients are required to wear face coverings and this should only be removed where this is a requirement of the treatment. They state that “the period without face coverings should be kept to a minimum and careful attention paid to other mitigations such as ventilation. The client should replace their face covering as soon as this part of the treatment is finished”.

Q. Can I work from home and in my client’s home?

This will vary depending on the country/region where you work, and if there are regulations and local or national restrictions in place that affect where you can and cannot work. Please see the Q&A "There are currently restrictions in place - can I still treat clients?” towards the top of this webpage for more guidance.

It is also important to bear in mind that even if your country's government indicates you can work in someone else's home, or from your own home, there may be times when it is not advisable - for example, if the client or you are part of a household or support bubble that includes someone who is shielding (when shielding is applicable), or if a member of the client's household has symptoms of COVID-19.

Q. Can I treat a client who has just come back from abroad?

It is best to refer to the government website to see if clients returning from a particular country are required to self-isolate, as this very much depends on whether travel between countries is permissible, as well as infection rates in that country. Please see the following weblink for more information: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors

Q. Do my clients need to complete a special Test and Trace form?

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you must use the NHS Test and Trace service, or your country's equivalent service. In the event that you test positive for COVID-19, NHS Test and Trace will contact you with instructions on how to share details of people you have been in close contact with recently, which will potentially include some of your clients. 

Under GDPR, you are allowed to share the following personal data with NHS Test and Trace, to help minimise the transmission of COVID-19 and support public health and safety:

  • The client's full name
  • A contact phone number for the client
  • The date and time of their treatment, and the length of their appointment.

For more information, see the government’s guidance on maintaining records for to support NHS Test and Trace.

To help members, we have added a simple statement to the bottom of the COVID-19 pre-treatment questions sheet, available as part of Your return to work pack.

Q. Do I need to display a special QR code poster for my clients to scan?

In England, to assist NHS Test and Trace in England, it is a legal requirement for you to:

  • Log the name and telephone number of all clients and visitors to your business (expect those solely delivering/collecting goods). You must also have a record of the date, time and length of their visit, and if you have staff, who carried out the treatment.
  • Log the name, telephone number and date/times worked by any staff.
  • Store all of the above information for a minimum of 21 days.

It is also a legal requirement for all therapists in England - including mobile therapists - to provide access to an official NHS QR code poster, so that clients and visitors have the option to scan this, if they are using the NHS COVID-19 app

If you are a mobile therapist, when you register for an NHS QR code poster, enter your business address (or home address, if this is where your business is registered) and then simply carry the poster with you and make it available to your clients at the beginning of the appointment. You can use a printed poster or present the code to them on a mobile device, such as a tablet - whatever works best for you.

For information and advice, please call the NHS QR code helpline on T. 0800 540 4900.

In Wales, to assist NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect, it is a legal requirement for you to:

  • Log the name and telephone number of all clients and visitors to your business (expect those solely delivering/collecting goods). You must also have a record of the date, time and length of their visit, and if you employ staff, who carried out the treatment.
  • Log the name, telephone number and date/times worked by any staff you employ.
  • Store all of the above information for a minimum of 21 days.

It is also a legal requirement for all therapists in Wales - including mobile therapists - to provide access to an official NHS QR code poster, so that clients and visitors have the option to scan this, if they are using the NHS COVID-19 app

If you are a mobile therapist, when you register for an NHS QR code poster, enter your business address (or home address, if this is where your business is registered) and then simply carry the poster with you and make it available to your clients at the beginning of the appointment. You can use a printed poster or present the code to them on a mobile device, such as a tablet - whatever works best for you.

For information and advice, please call the NHS QR code helpline on T. 0800 540 4900.

In Scotland, to assist Test and Protect, you are required to:

  • Log the name and telephone number of all clients and visitors to your business (expect those solely delivering/collecting goods). You must also have a record of the date, time and length of their visit, and if you employ staff, who carried out the treatment.
  • Log the name, telephone number and date/times worked by any staff and volunteers who work for you.

In terms of apps, smartphone users in Scotland are being encouraged to use NHS Scotland’s Protect Scotland contact tracing app, to help suppress the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Use of this app is voluntary.

In Northern Ireland, therapists are required to hold information about their clients, visitors and staff, for a minimum of 21 days, in order to support Test, Trace and Protect in Northern Ireland. For clients, this would include a name, a contact telephone number, and the date/time of their treatment.

In Northern Ireland, smartphone users are being encouraged to use the StopCOVID NI Proximity App to help stop spread COVID-19. Use of this app is voluntary.

Q. Test and trace have told me to self-isolate after a client tested positive – do I need to, as I was wearing PPE and following government guidance? 

In Section 6 of the government guidance for close contact services in England, which covers complementary, beauty and sports therapies, it states:

“Individuals contacted via the NHS Test and Trace service, having been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, will still need to self- isolate even if wearing a visor/goggles and Type II face mask at work.”

In Wales, the Acupuncture, clinical and sports therapy services: coronavirus workplace guidance states that “in instances where you are contacted via the NHS Test,Trace, Protect service, having been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you will still need to self-isolate even if you are wearing a visor and Type II face mask at work” (Section 5.1). However, “therapists who wear enhanced medical grade PPE as part of their normal daily practice may not be required to self-isolate in instances where they are contacted via the test and trace service if identified as having been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19” (Section 5.2).

Q. If I have to self-isolate, am I entitled to any government funding?

You may be entitled to a one-off payment of £500 through the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme if you’ve been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, or you’re the parent or guardian of a child who has been told to self-isolate. For more information, read this government guidance on Claiming financial support under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.

Q. Can I provide drinks/refreshments to my clients?

Government guidance varies from country to country.

In England, the government’s Close contact services guidance it states: “Salons can provide hot or cold drinks to clients in disposable cups or bottles. Practitioners should encourage clients to only remove their mask to consume the drink. When clients have removed their masks, practitioners should ensure they are socially distanced from the client (2m, or 1m+ with mitigations).​

In Wales, the government’s Acupuncture, clinical and sports therapy services: coronavirus workplace guidance and Hair, beauty, holistic, tattoo and body piercing services: coronavirus workplace guidance do not offer guidance on whether you can provide refreshments to clients, however both state that needing to eat or drink may be a ‘reasonable excuse’ for removing a mask or face covering, particularly during hot weather or if the client is diabetic (for more information, see the ‘Face covering’ sections in both sets of guidance). We would advise asking the client to bring a bottle of water with them to the appointment and ensuring that they immediately reapply their mask after having a drink, and that you maintain a minimum of two metres distance from them when they are having a drink of water.

In Scotland, it is stated in their Close contact services questions and answers: "No drinks should be offered to clients/customers when in the salon. Clients/customers may bring their own drinks with them if needed and may temporarily remove a face covering to drink from their own container, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others where possible".

In Northern Ireland, the government's Keeping workers and clients safe during COVID-19 in close contact services states that clients should not allow “food or drink to be consumed […] by clients other than water in disposable cups or bottles”.

Q. Will my insurance cover me during coronavirus?

The insurance policies available through the FHT (Combined medical malpractice, public and products insurance; Personal accident cover; Business stock and equipment; Salon) do not provide income protection.

When your country’s government indicates that you can return to work, providing you follow guidelines from your country or local authority, and the FHT’s Preparing to return to practice guidelines, your FHT Combined Medical Malpractice, Public and Products Liability insurance with the FHT will cover your work (as per the terms and conditions of the policy).

If you have any further queries regarding your insurance with the FHT, please contact us on info@fht.org.uk. Please could we ask you to be patient at this time, as we are receiving a very high volume of queries.

Q. Is FHT offering any training that covers how to return to work safely?

We're pleased to bring members a selection of online courses from FHT accredited course providers, to refresh and update your infection control knowledge, including: Brighton HolisticsGateway Workshops, and Jennifer Young's FREE FHT-accredited course, Control of Cross Infection in a Post-Covid World. This in-depth course is certified upon completion and comes with a logo to use on your website and other marketing materials. 

Q. With so many training events and conferences cancelled, do I still need to complete my CPD?

Please remember that classroom-based training is not the only way you can gain CPD and with social distancing measures likely to be a requirement for some time, we anticipate a lot more training providers will start offering courses online (however, please also note that not all of these courses will be recognised for membership and insurance – contact FHT at info@fht.org.uk before you pay for any online training).

You can also gain CPD points through other activities you can easily do at home, such as reflective practice, case studies, developing a marketing plan and completing the A&P spirals in International Therapist magazine. For more information please visit fht.org.uk/cpd and read our blog item, Development and learning from home.

As most of our members have online access, we have also collaborated with our accredited course providers and event speakers to put together a ‘Stay at Home' video series, to help you complete CPD, free of charge. You can take a look at the videos currently available at fht.org.uk/stay-at-home-video-series and if you complete the accompanying activity document for each video, you can also gain valuable CPD points. NB: the Stay at Home videos are for CPD purposes only and are not to teach insurable hands-on skills.

This year, we’re also pleased to deliver our annual Training Congress online, with more than 50 seminars to choose from over two days this June – for more information, please visit fht.org.uk/virtualcongress

Q. I was providing a mobile therapy service, but as I’m now supporting my clients remotely, from my own home, can a claim a tax rebate on any of my expenses?

If you are working from home, you may be entitled to claim a tax rebate on certain expenses including a proportion of how much you pay for lighting, heating, insurance, council tax and water rates.

If you work less than 25 hours a month from home, it is likely that you would have to calculate this proportion yourself. However, if you work from home for more than 25 hours a month, you can use HMRC’s simplified expenses system. This will calculate a flat rate for your allowable expenses, based on the number of hours you work from home each month, which could range from £10 up to £26 per month. (This flat rate doesn’t include telephone or internet expenses, but you can claim these by working out the actual costs – for more information see www.gov.uk/expenses-if-youre-self-employed).

Claiming a tax rebate on business expenses can only be done via a self-assessment tax return which, as a self-employed therapist, you would submit each year.

Q. My clients need my support, now more than ever. How can I take care of them, until I can return to treating them in person?

We understand that you may be feeling sad or frustrated if there are situations where you are not able to physically treat clients.

As such, we’d like to share some recommendations that we hope you will find helpful:

  • First and foremost, take good care of your own health and wellbeing at this challenging time, including your emotional and mental wellbeing. Find some time each day – even if it’s just 10 minutes - to practice mindfulness, yoga, or a short breathing exercise. Or simply do something you enjoy, whether its baking, taking a long warm bath, exercising or reading a book. 
  • If a client tells you that they have symptoms of coronavirus or they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, please signpost them to reliable information and support (see links below).
  • If you are qualified and insured to practise therapies that can be conducted remotely, such as counselling or other types of talking therapy, you could offer these to your clients as a safer alternative to therapies that involve contact.
  • Stay in touch with your clients, even if you are not seeing them. If they are vulnerable or lonely, they will really value just having a conversation with someone they have come to know and trust.
  • As highlighted in this statement, you might be able to offer your clients some tips – over the phone, live video apps or email – about how to stay as healthy as possible while at home. This could include some simple self-help techniques and we will be providing online links and guidance to help you do this over the coming weeks.

Compassion and acts of kindness are key during this challenging time to support those in our local community, and we know this is something our members are perfect at providing, even remotely. Just please remember to be compassionate to yourselves, too.

Q. As things are constantly changing, how can I keep up to date?

We will be continually reviewing and updating the content of this webpage, so please keep coming back and checking it on a regular basis. However, as the situation is constantly evolving, we would strongly recommend that you keep an eye on the latest information provided by the government and other authorities:

Q. Do you have any other information I might find helpful?

Alongside this statement, we have published some Preparing to return to practice guidelines as well as a return to work pack, which contains lots of useful resources for our members, including a template email, posters and COVID-19 policy. It is also worth keeping an eye on our blog (fht.org.uk/blog) for useful news items and resources -  here are some items we have published on the blog that you and your clients might find helpful:

Q. If I have other queries, how can I get in touch?

As we are sure you will appreciate, the FHT, its staff and board have also had to follow government guidelines to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus, which includes working from home. 

Please contact us by email at info@fht.org.uk or call T. 023 8062 4350 (lines are open between 9am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-4.45 pm, Monday to Friday). Please note that we are experiencing an extremely high volume of queries and calls at this time. We will get back to you as soon as possible - thank you for your patience.

On behalf of everyone at the FHT, we wish you continued good health at this challenging time.

The FHT Team