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Covid-19 (Coronavirus) UK Practitioner Guidance

Posted by admin at 13:44 on 20 Aug 2020


Firstly, the International Federation of Aromatherapists (IFA) would like to express their sincere understanding of the need for clarity regarding restrictions in returning to work. The IFA are therefore signatories to a letter to Government from the Integrated Healthcare Collaborative (IHC) asking for clear guidance when local restrictions are imposed. As guidance is changing on a daily basis, we will be updating this page regularly so please check it periodically. 

Returning to work status:

COVID Practioner Guidelines.jpg


As you will be aware, the UK Government recently updated its directions regarding Covid-19 and that therapists across England have been able to reopen safely from 13th July providing treatments to the body and facial treatments have resumed as of the 15th August, provided you adhere to the government guidelines to be covered by your insurance.

Please read below the guidelines so you are fully prepared to go back to work.

Where 2 metre social distancing cannot be maintained, for example when providing a treatment, you must wear a clear visor that covers the face, or the use of a screen or other barrier that protects the practitioner and the customer from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing or speaking. From 14th August, the government has also stipulated that Type 2 masks (disposable kind) must be worn by therapists in addition to the visor.  From 8th August clients are to wear a mask also. Client can remove mask where necessary during treatment i.e. when lying prone, or when receiving facial treatment.

It would not be a requirement to wear gloves, unless instructed to do so by your local Council (so you need to ask your local council as each borough’s guidance differentiates slightly). However, if you have any minor cuts, abrasions, or broken skin on your hands/fingers, it would be advisable to wear gloves when carrying out massage during the pandemic. It may also be well worth contacting your local borough for a reduction for massage and special treatments licence fee if your area is not exempted from paying the fee with IFA registration.

The government has worked with a range of stakeholders in the industry to develop the measures close contact services will need to consider to become COVID-19 secure, including:

  • using screens or barriers to separate clients from each other, and to separate practitioners from clients
  • operating an appointment-only booking system to minimise the number of people on the premises at any one time
  • keeping the activity time involved to a minimum
  • increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning, as well as regularly cleaning equipment or using disposable equipment where possible
  • maintaining sufficient spacing between customer chairs
  • not allowing food or drink, other than water, to be consumed in the salon by customers

The guidance also applies to businesses that operate in different locations, such as massage therapists working in people’s homes, and those learning in vocational training environments.

Businesses will need to keep records of staff and customers and share these with NHS Test and Trace where requested, to help identify people who may have been exposed to the virus.

Businesses will only be able to open from these dates once they have completed a risk assessment (available in the member’s area) and are confident they are managing the risks. You must have taken the necessary steps to become COVID-19 secure in line with the current Health and Safety legislation.

You should display a downloadable notice in your workplace to show your employees, customers and other visitors workplace, that you have followed this guidance.

Track and Trace

Track and Trace for close contact services has been made mandatory in England from Friday 18th September and from the 24th September you will have to register with the NHS site and download a QR code. The links are below:

Each place of work has to have a QR code displayed so people can upload it to the government Track and Trace app. It allows the customer to mark where they have been in the event of infection. It will allow the therapist to be aware of this and infection rate in the area. It is easy to do via website is www.gov.uk/create-coronavirus-qr-poster

These codes are mandatory for all premises to display and may well be the saving grace for close contact services as it can prove you are not a major source of transferred infection. If nobody using Track and Trace or passes it on through our services then we have clear evidence of our ability to prevent cross infection and will reduce our overall risk factor should another lock down come either locally or nationally.


The Scottish Government gave massage and complementary therapy services a resumption date of 22 July 2020, where the service is carried out in the therapist’s own premises (i.e. not a mobile therapist who provides treatment in a patient’s home). They are asking that massage therapy and close contact complementary and alternative therapy is only carried out on the therapist’s own premises whilst they consider whether further guidance is required for mobile massage and CAM therapists.

A clinical assessment of the risk of transmission for such services must be undertaken, which involve close personal contact for extended periods. Further guidance for the sector has now been published on the Scottish Government website, which can be found here.


The Welsh Government confirmed that close contact holistic services can reopen from 28th July provided that you:

  • have full infection control measures in place
  • have confirmation that you are covered by your Professional Indemnity Insurance
  • comply with any local lockdown restrictions imposed in your area.

The IFA have put in place general guidance on how members can resume practice with maximum safety, which will need to be viewed alongside your individual professional insurance policy before returning to work and can be downloaded in the member’s area.

The IFA is approved as an Accredited Register by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (PSA) - a body accountable to Parliament. This provides additional assurance that IFA registrants meet UK wide standards of patient safety and service quality. So if any of your clients are a little nervous about coming to see you during these uncertain times, you can tell them that you are IFA registered and explain what that means in terms of safety and high standards of care.


What paperwork will I need?

You will need to have completed a risk assessment of the treatment area, premises etc (downloadable in the members area). 

We are also encouraging members to ask clients to sign a disclaimer saying they and their family members are not showing any signs of COVID-19, also downloadable in the member's area.

COV19 Risk Assessment Certificate Courses

We understand a lot of you have been asking about courses that will provide you with a certificate on completion to display in your place of work. Please see below examples of free online courses you can take that provide a certificate in preparation:

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

If you are self-employed or a member of a partnership (i.e. not a limited company) and have been adversely affected by coronavirus (COVID- 19) you may be able to make a claim for the second part of this scheme.

The second and final taxable grant is worth 70% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits and capped at £6570 in total.

To claim you need to have been affected on or after 14th July.

You must make your claim for the second grant on or before 19th October.

Further details can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

Government Guidance 

Keeping workers and clients safe during COVID 19 in close contact services

Further Reading:

For more information

To access the ‘Returning to Work Strategy’ guidance, sample client disclaimer, notice and risk assessment including further additional resources please login to the members’ area of our website.