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Covid-19 (Coronavirus) UK Practitioner Guidance

Posted by Lauren at 15:44 on 31 Jul 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. As guidance is changing on a daily basis, we will be updating this page regularly so please check it periodically. For information regarding the anti-viral properties of essential oils please click here

Returning to work status


As you will be aware, the UK Government recently updated its directions regarding Covid-19 and that therapists across England are able to reopen safely from 13th July providing treatments to the body and are anticipating facial treatments may resume from the 15th August (this may be subject to change) 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. Visors also makes contamination less likely, as wearing a mask to massage means you could be adjusting them often as you move, increasing the chance of contaminating your hands.

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.


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.


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:

Government Guidance 

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

Further Reading: