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The ACAO will continue to post updates on COVID-19 as new information emerges. Please check back regularly for new content.

May 1, 2020: The Government of Alberta announced on April 30, 2020 that regulated health care practitioners will be allowed to re-open in early May as part of Stage 1 of Alberta’s Relaunch PlanView the ACAO guidelines for Re-Opening of health practices here

April 30, 2020: Due to a Covid-19 outbreak in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan officials announced that Lloydminster will not be part of the first phase of a plan to reopen the province, scheduled to begin May 4. Lloydminster opticians should continue to adhere to any guidelines for health care practitioners issued by Saskatchewan Health.

April 28, 2020: Effective May 4, 2020 the Government of Saskatchewan has approved the re-opening of medical services restricted under the current public health order. On May 4, public access to medical services in Saskatchewan will be reinstated, including access to dentistry, optometry, physical therapy, opticians, podiatry, occupational therapy and chiropractic treatment.  When it is not possible to physically distance, practitioners will be required to take precautionary measures as outlined by the Chief Medical Health Officer of Saskatchewan.

On April 28, 2020 Alberta Health provided Colleges with an update regarding how this will affect practitioners working in Lloydminster. Due to the unique legislative arrangement for Lloydminster, any orders made under Alberta’s Public Health Act, will have no application in any part of Lloydminster as the Public Health Act of Saskatchewan applies. The limitation on the practice of Alberta based practitioners in these circumstances would only arise if the Alberta colleges for those professions issued separate orders/bylaws restricting the practice of their regulated members during the COVID pandemic. 

This means that Alberta practitioners located in Lloydminster will be able to re-open in accordance with the guidance provided by the Government of Saskatchewan. 

The ACAO is not issuing any recommendations for practitioners who are re-opening at this time. We would advise, therefore, that they adhere to any guidelines for health care practitioners issued by Saskatchewan Health as part of their re-opening plan.

April 6, 2020: Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, provided an update regarding the use of cloth face masks. In addition to previous recommendations, a face covering may be an added benefit for those who are well and in places where they cannot keep 2 metres distant from others. Wearing a non-medical mask, such as a homemade cloth mask, has not been proven to protect the person who is wearing it; however. it may be helpful in protecting others around you.

IMPORTANT: Non-medical masks are not considered Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health care practitioners. Further, if a health practitioner is in a situation that would require a medical mask, a cloth mask would not suffice. 

April 2, 2020: *UPDATE* You can find information on PPE here 

To support the province’s effort to meet critical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needs during the COVID-19 response, the Government of Alberta has asked the ACAO to gather any PPE requests from our members and provide clear guidance to members on the appropriate use of PPE when providing urgent care. For the purposes of this process, PPE includes: hand sanitizer liquid and dispensers, surface wipes (disinfectant), surgical masks, N95 respirators, disposable gowns and coveralls, Tyvek boot covers, disposable aprons, safety glasses/goggles, face shields, disposable gloves, and infrared thermometers.

For opticians providing urgent care, the most common PPE in use will be those products used for infection control procedures, including hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Some opticians may be electing to wear gloves and masks as well to protect against infection and transmission when working in close contact to a patient.

Alberta Health Services has published guidelines on routine practices, including the use of PPE in specific circumstances, such as when splashes of fluids or contact with bodily fluids may occur. The Alberta College of Optometrists have also published Best Practice Recommendations For Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The ACAO encourages members to consult these guidelines and recommendations for the use of PPE in their practices. Registered opticians and registered contact lens practitioners must use their professional judgment to determine what PPE they require to provide urgent care to each patient. Members should also consider what practice adjustments can be made to increase the safety of patients and practitioners while reducing the need to rely on PPE (e.g., reducing proximity to patients and focusing sanitation efforts on high-touch surfaces).

Requests to government should only be made when your existing supply chain for PPE has been exhausted. PPE supplies delivered from the government are also intended for member use only and are not intended for resale.

Please contact the ACAO directly at general@acao.ca if you need access to this assistance. At the bottom of this page you can download The ACAO’s notice to practitioners which includes additional patient and practitioner health and safety information, including how to determine urgent vs non-essential care, reduce proximity to patients, and follow appropriate screening and infection control procedures.

March 29, 2020 Update: Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, has issued a public health order with additional clarification regarding non-essential health services. 

Health professionals may continue to offer or provide non-essential health services if they are deemed urgent by the registered professional (Section 7). Health professionals providing urgent care must adhere to infection control protocols, provide for rapid response in the event of infection, and maintain a high level of workplace and worker hygiene (Section 11).

Click here to view the full Record of Decision. Please also view the ACAO’s notice below for further guidelines regarding urgent care.

March 27, 2020 Update: The Government of Alberta announced restrictions this afternoon to businesses and services.

“Albertans are prohibited from accessing close contact personal services, including personal services facilities, cosmetic enhancement services, wellness studios and clinics, non-emergency and non-critical health services.”

Non-emergency and non-critical health services provided by regulated health professionals or registered professionals have been expressly restricted for the following:

  • Dentistry
  • Physiotherapy
  • Massage
  • Foot care and podiatry
  • Acupuncture and acupressure
  • Chiropractic services
  • Optometry
  • Naturopathy

We received clarification from government that these restrictions apply to all close contact personal services and health services. We are, therefore, recommending that ACAO members limit services to emergent and critical health services in accordance with the government’s advisory.

Our notice below and our updated Business and Employer/Employee Notice includes information to assist with identifying non-essential vs urgent care services.

For more information on the business and service restrictions, please visit the Government of Alberta website or view today’s news release.

From Alberta Health

From Health Canada

Please participate in this survey to help us keep the government informed on the status of health care practitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here to download the ACAO COVID-19 Guidelines for Practitioners. (Last Updated April 30, 2020).