LloydsPharmacy has cut back opening hours in its 1,500 UK stores in order to help staff deal with rising prescription volumes as the COVID-19 pandemic escalates.
The multiple announced on March 20 that its pharmacies would be opening an hour later than usual, "which for many stores will be 10am," and would be closed to the public for the last hour of the day "which is typically between 5-6pm" although late-opening stores will differ.
This is to ensure pharmacy teams are able to manage the increasing customer demand and can continue to supply prescription medicines without disruption, the company said.
To enable the pharmacy teams to have a scheduled break, all stores are also closing at lunch - typically between 1pm and 2pm.
In addition to the new opening times, LloydsPharmacy has introduced a two-metre social distance policy between pharmacist and customer and is allowing pharmacists to temporarily restrict the number of patients in their store.
This is being done to protect the safety of patients and staff, the multiple said.
Kevin Birch, chief retail officer, said: “Our pharmacy teams have been experiencing an unprecedented demand for their services as the COVID-19 incidence increases. Our priority is to ensure we continue to meet this increase in demand and support the health and wellbeing of our customers during this difficult time.
"It is therefore vital that we introduce measures to protect our vulnerable patients as well as our colleagues. As a community healthcare provider we are continually monitoring the situation as it evolves to ensure we are offering the best care to all.”
“LloydsPharmacy’s healthcare teams in the community are working harder than ever to ensure people can continue to get the products, services and medicines they need. We are there to support people with their healthcare needs as best we can."
Mr Birch advised those who cannot collect prescriptions in person due to self-isolation or social distancing to use the company's free NHS repeat prescriptions app.