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As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many of us are having to rethink how we go about everyday activities such as going shopping, commuting to our place of work or keeping an appointment with our GP. Understandably, this is causing confusion and concern amongst many of our patients so we’ve pulled together a helpful guide for those of us who need to leave the house. 

 In what circumstances can I leave my house?

As per the current government coronavirus guidance you should only leave home for the following reasons:

  1. Shopping for necessities such as food and medicine, as infrequently as possible. 
  2. For any medical need including donating blood, providing essential care to a vulnerable person or escaping from the risk of injury or harm. The Chief Medical Officer has made it clear that if you feel you need to visit your GP or hospital, you should do so. You mustn’t delay early treatment of serious conditions through being fearful of contracting Coronavirus.
  3. Exercising (e.g. a run, walk or cycle) once a day, either alone or with members of your household.
  4. Commuting for the purposes of essential work but only when it cannot be done from home.

Anything outside of these parameters could be considered as an infringement of the guidance and under new An Garda Siochana powers, you may be liable to a fine. 

A guide to shopping during the pandemic

As the virus is spread through small cough droplets, going shopping and mixing with others could expose you to an increased risk of catching the virus. Bearing that in mind, here’s what you should do when you have to get your essentials during the pandemic:

  1. Wash your hands for 20 seconds before leaving the house and after you’ve returned home. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer.
  2. As surfaces may be contaminated, avoid touching your face after using a shopping trolley/basket or touching packages and produce.
  3. When paying, use a contactless method if possible.
  4. Maintain a distance of at least 2 metres between you and other shoppers and staff.
  5. At present, there’s no guidance issued to support wearing a mask for the general population. Please don’t be alarmed by colleagues in our pharmacies wearing masks, this is based on the latest guidance issued by the government in the last few days regarding healthcare workers.
  6. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland recently clarified that there is no need to wipe food packaging to remove Coronavirus as there is no evidence of contracting the virus this way as yet. You should still wash your hands after handling your shopping, they say.

Getting Prescriptions and Medication

We’re so pleased that all of our pharmacies continue to maintain our original opening hours and are there for you during these difficult times. When you call into our pharmacies, here is what you can do to help us give you the care you need:

  1. Please follow the social distance guidance marked on the floor of the pharmacy
  2. If you have a prescription on file with us, please call ahead and give us time to prepare it - we’re asking for 5 days notice if you can manage that
  3. If you want to call in with your prescription, please continue to do so - it’s important you carry on taking your medicines as prescribed
  4. We may ask you to pop back depending on our current workload. This is to reduce your exposure time to other customers in the pharmacy and helps to keep our teams safe. We want our teams to be working at full strength for you - they have been so fantastic over the last few weeks working longer hours making sure you have all you need to stay well.
  5. Rarely we may temporarily restrict customer numbers to maintain social distancing. There will always be a colleague at the door explaining this, prioritising customers and receiving prescriptions. They will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
  6. Our pharmacists and all of our support staff will still be able to respond to any questions you have about your medicines and give professional advice on any symptoms you may be experiencing. Our pharmacists are now the only healthcare professionals you can still easily access and are highly trained to Master’s Degree level in responding to symptoms.
  7. Lastly, please be patient with us if you experience a small delay. Our teams really are on the front line of this fight against COVID-19 and it’s a worrying time for everyone. We understand that being ill is stressful, we promise that we’re doing our best to support everyone in our communities. You can really help by showing our teams kindness where you can. Thank you to all of our customers and patients for the gratitude, well wishes and occasional treats you’ve passed onto our teams - they really are warmly appreciated.

We still have some way to go, but every citizen of Ireland should be so proud of the effort we’ve put into tackling this pandemic. Everyone at CARA Pharmacies feels privileged to be of service to you, your family and our communities and we will still be there for you when we’ve beaten COVID-19. Stay safe.

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