November 2020: Can I Work?

19 Oct 2020 13:00 | SMA Member Administration (Administrator)


We recommend that you double-check you are following the protocols on client screening, PPE, infection control and compliance with Track and Trace.  We further recommend that you include within your client notes justification for treatment (i.e. why it was necessary), in addition to the following:

  • that the patient has consented to treatment
  • that the patient has been Covid screened
  • that the patient is wearing an IIR mask and the therapist is in full PPE
  • that the patient's temperature has been taken (and what it was)
  • that justification for treatment has been completed

These can be completed quickly using the following format:

F2F Consent  ✅ Screened ✅ Pt IIR  ✅ Me Full PPE   Temp Check  

You are not obliged to continue working if you feel uncomfortable in the light of rising infection rates.

There is no indication that mobile therapists, or those who work from a Covid-secure area within their own homes are obliged to stop work.  Current guidance on household mixing applies to social gatherings and not work situations.  If anything changes, or we are given more specific advice then we will update guidance here.  Please click on the relevant country name for link to the government advice on local restrictions.


  • Information correct as of 9th November 2020         


  • All therapists are currently allowed to work; clinic-based, home-based & mobile
  • All therapists must have an NHS QR code
  • All therapists must continue to wear full PPE comprising of a mask, gloves, apron and visor
  • Clients must wear a mask throughout the treatment
  • CURRENTLY England is in a National Lockdown from 5th November until December 2nd

    During this time therapists may remain working but ONLY for a medical or mental health need.

  • A virtual pre-screening MUST take place, either by phone or visually
  • Justification for treatment must be documented using clinical reasoning
  • The treatment cannot be for maintenance or relaxation (use the Virtual Consultation form)
  • A current risk assessment, PPE, Covid screening, hygiene and cleaning procedures are in place and documented.

Mobile working: You cannot provide treatment to a client in their own home unless you have received a direct referral from a statutory regulated health professional.

If your practice is based in your home: You can continue to work as long as it is COVID secure (i.e. following all SMA guidance)

Northern Ireland

Information correct as of 26th November 2020

From 27th November 2020 new restrictions come into place for Northern Ireland, when there is a further 2-week lockdown.  The Guidelines state that state that close contact services must cease, however in the same paragraph it also says, “Exemptions apply for film and TV production; those ancillary to medical, health and social care services; and elite-sports therapeutic services.” As with English therapists, the SMA feels that our members definitely come under the category of medical/health services and we have recently seen evidence that the government is recognising us as so.  With this in mind we advise that you are able to continue working during the lockdown, with some restrictions*.

We have consulted with our insurers, Balen and Graybrook Hallam (please check your own insurance provider if not with either of these) who are happy to provide insurance coverage as long as therapists are following all legal requirements. In addition, and in the interests of best practice our guidance is that we should take the approach taken by the statutory regulated health professions *the treatment should be for a medical/mental health condition, not just maintenance or wellbeing. You may find it useful to use the Virtual Consultation Form that was recently emailed in order to ascertain the treatment need; as a pre-treatment screening document.

With this in mind, we suggest that your documentation clearly states your justification for treatment, that all previous advice regarding risk assessment, PPE, Covid screening, hygiene and cleaning procedures are in place and documented.  The documents in the Resource Pack have been updated so please make sure you have the latest version.

Mobile working: You cannot provide treatment to a client in their own home.

If your practice is based in your home: You cannot provide treatment to a client in your own home unless you have a separate entrance, and the client does not come into your living quarters at all.

Best wishes


* please note this advice refers to the NORTHERN IRELAND legislation, practitioners based in Scotland, Wales and England will need to operate under their devolved government legislation rules


Advice from SMTO, with thanks.

  • Eleven Council areas move into Tier 4 in Scotland

    The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced that 11 council areas will go into her highest tier of restrictions from 6pm on Friday 20th of November for 3 weeks, the equivalent of almost full lockdown apart from schools and education staying open.

    The council areas that will move to Tier 4 for a limited 3-week period from Friday 20th Nov are:

  • 1.     City of Glasgow
  • 2.     Renfrewshire
  • 3.     East Renfrewshire
  • 4.     East Dunbartonshire
  • 5.     West Dunbartonshire
  • 6.     North Lanarkshire
  • 7.     South Lanarkshire
  • 8.     East Ayrshire
  • 9.     South Ayrshire
  • 10.  Stirling
  • 11.  West Lothian

Level 4 is intended to be short and sharp. It is specifically intended to have an impact in advance of Christmas and the most challenging winter period. "We will assess nearer the time the level that will apply in each area when the Level 4 restrictions end on December 11."

In July this year, The National Clinical Director Prof. Jason Leitch announced that Healthcare Professionals in Scotland are those who are statutory regulated. This means that all Complementary and Alternative Medicine therapists including Massage and Sports/Remedial Massage Therapists, Sports therapists are those included in the ‘close contact’ services.

In tier 4, these services must close:

“Complementary and alternative medicine services requiring physical contact or close physical proximity between persons, but not osteopathy and chiropractic services” must close.

Health is a devolved responsibility of the Scottish Government. For this reason, guidance which may be applicable in England will not be applicable in Scotland.


The SMTO is now advising that their members in tier 4 areas must cease trading at 6pm Friday 20th November, for 3 weeks.

Further information about Tier 4 generally can be found on the following Scot.Gov page


Travel restrictions

Travel into and out of parts of Scotland that are in Level 3 and Level 4 areas will be against the law from Friday. The current guidance on non-essential travel has only been advisory but will become law from Friday.


There are currently no restrictions for therapists working in Wales at the moment (19/11/20).  Of course, you must still follow all the SMA guidelines for working safely regarding risk assessment, hygiene and cleaning precautions and the wearing of PPE.  See the Resource Pack

*Please note: we can only offer guidance to therapists registered as members of The SMA.  If you are a member of a different Professional Association you must refer to their guidance on working as it has implications for your insurance cover.  If you would like to join the SMA, please e-mail with details of your main qualification in Soft Tissue Therapy and we will advise on eligibility.  Existing members are more than welcome to e-mail us with any questions on this guidance or other issues.

get SOCIAL !