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UK Lockdown Restrictions

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Following this evening's vote in Westminster, we are now able to confirm the situation with regards to herbal practice in all four nations of the UK.

The impact on face-to-face consultations varies, and these are currently only permitted in England, the Scottish Islands and in specific circumstances in mainland Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Our guidance continues to suggest that, in these areas, you should continue to work from home wherever possible and to offer remote consultations where, in your professional judgement, this provides a more appropriate option for your patient.

We recognise the challenges these restrictions present to our members however we continue to be in a stronger position than some other practitioners in modalities who are unable to offer remote consultations.

Below is a summary of the current legislation in force throughout the United Kingdom as it may apply to herbal practice as a result of imposed restrictions.



National Lockdown (expires 31 March 2021).

Section 17(o) of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 states that:

“dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health” may remain open.

It is our view that the work of herbal practitioners should be regarded as part of ‘health services’ and we are therefore suggesting that, provided full COVID safety procedures are observed, members may continue to provide face-to-face consultations where they feel that this is necessary for the healthcare needs of individual patients.

Here is a link to the relevant legislation:


From the information and guidance available from the Scottish government, unfortunately it seems that the most appropriate classification for the majority of face-to-face consultations in herbal practice is that of  'close contact services' and therefore in most cases face-to-face consultations are not permitted unless your practice is on the Scottish Islands.

Mainland Scotland - temporary lockdown until at least the end of January

'Close contact services and mobile close contact services must not operate, this includes 'complementary and alternative medicine services requiring physical contact or close physical proximity between persons'.

There may be limited circumstances where a face-to-face consultation is required without any need for practitioner and patient to come into physical contact or close physical proximity. In most circumstances a remote consultation would be the best option, but members should use their professional judgement to assess whether a brief, social distanced, in-person consultation may be better.

Scottish Islands - Covid Protection Level 3

Close contact services and mobile contact services are permitted to operate providing they follow Scottish government guidance:


Alert Level 4 - Stay at Home unless a reasonable excuse to leave. Reviewed every three weeks from 20 December 2020

In Wales face-to-face consultations in herbal practice are also categorised as 'Close contact services' and must not be undertaken unless working alongside a statutory regulated health professional:

'Close contact services – this includes beauty therapists, beauty advanced practices treatment practitioners, make-up artists, nail service technicians, reflexologists, aesthetics, holistic, wellbeing and other practitioners; acupuncture and  electrocautery practitioners and massage therapists including sports and clinical massage therapists.'

The exceptions are:
'Treatments or services which are providing medical treatments for illness or injury. These would include therapists who are working alongside or in conjunction with a statutory regulated health professional - for example, a sports therapist based in a clinic owned by an osteopath, or working alongside doctors or nurses in a hospital or hospice to help support patients receiving medical treatment. Services that provide non-cosmetic laser / IPL medical treatment for illness or injury would also be permitted.

Northern Ireland:

Regulations from 26 December 2020 for 6 weeks with a review after 4 weeks

Similarly to Wales and Scotland there is a restriction where 'Close contact services such as 'well-being and holistic therapies' are not permitted to operate', although there are exemptions for essential health services, and work as a herbalist may be permitted if it falls within this category. You should consider each patient against this, and only proceed with a face-to-face consultation if you are satisfied you are providing such a service.

Link to the legislation:


N.B. - the guidance for Northern Ireland has been updated since this was originally released to members on 6 January