Can I continue my mobile veterinary practice
Can I go to someone's house to treat their animal?
How can I treat an unwell animal if a client is self-isolating or unwell?
this FAQ is only current until 11:59pm 13 September 2020. Updates will be made after that date.
In Stage 4 areas between 5am and 8pm, a veterinary practitioner providing mobile veterinary services can enter a person's home to provide necessary goods and services (Stay at Home Directions (Restricted Areas), clause 11(1)). However, the directions also say, 'a person who ordinarily resides in the Restricted Area must not permit another person to enter the premises at which they ordinarily reside, unless it is necessary for the other person to enter the premises for ... work ..., provided that the premises is where the work will take place and such work is urgent and essential…' (clause 11(2)(c)(ii)).
In Stage 4 areas during curfew hours between 8pm and 5am, Agriculture Victoria's FAQs for animal carers say that general veterinary practices (including mobile veterinary services) must be closed except to provide emergency veterinary services or 24-hour emergency referral services. An emergency service is defined as one where, in the opinion of the attending veterinary practitioner, the immediate and/or ongoing health or welfare of an individual animal or herd/flock of animals is likely to be jeopardised if urgent attention is not provided. Agriculture Victoria recommends that veterinary practitioners corroborate their opinion by consulting another registered veterinary practitioner and recording the second opinion on the veterinary medical record. Veterinary practitioners should instruct clients who require 24-hour emergency referral services to attend one closest to their home, preferably within 5km (Agriculture Victoria FAQs).
In Stage 3 areas there is no curfew during which mobile veterinary practices cannot provide general veterinary services, and the rules do not restrict work to urgent and essential work. A a veterinary practitioner providing mobile veterinary services can enter a person's home to provide necessary goods and services (Stay at Home Directions (Non Melbourne), clauses 11(1) and 11(2)).
In both Stage 3 and 4 areas follow the requirements in the government's Workplace Directions when providing mobile veterinary services. The Workplace Directions define work premises as ‘the premises of an employer in which work is undertaken, including any vehicle whilst being used for work purposes’… The Workplace Directions include having a COVIDSafe Plan (if the mobile veterinary practice has more than 5 workers) and carrying a Permitted Worker Permit. Make sure to carry your permit with you when travelling, and it may help also to print the list of permitted industries which includes vets, your proof of registration as a vet, the Stay at Home directions (so you can point to the section permitting you to travel to someone’s home), and the Workplace Directions and your COVIDSafe plan (if you need one). If you have all these with you, it should help you to answer any questions if you are stopped en route.
Be sure to take all the preventative measures in the Workplace Directions e.g. face coverings, density quotient, record-keeping. It is necessary to establish with your client whether they have any symptoms, or are in isolation or quarantine, before you make an appointment. And any mobile vet who has symptoms must be treated as a suspected COVID case following the instructions in the Workplace Directions. The Workplace Directions are just the minimum requirements – exercise your professional judgement about any other precautions you might take when making and conducting appointments, e.g. use of PPE.
Re isolating and sick clients, call the coronavirus hotline (1800 675 398) if they say there is no way to treat a sick animal other than attend the premises. Current Diagnosed Persons and Close Contacts directions sub-clause 8(2)(c) specifies that persons in self-isolation and self-quarantine, 'must not permit any other person to enter the premises unless' that other person: lives there; is required to self-isolate or self-quarantine at the same premises; needs to enter for medical or emergency purposes; is a disability worker who needs to enter to provide a disability service to a person with a disability; needs to enter to provide personal care or household assistance to a person as a result of that person's age, disability or chronic health condition; or is required or authorised to enter by law.
A similar direction applies to people arriving in Victoria from overseas in compulsory quarantine (clauses 4(2) and 4(3) of current Direction and Detention Notice).
Where government directions prevent you from visiting a person's home, other options include to:
- undertake remote consultations, having regard to the Board's information at Remote consultations (telemedicine and assisted-technology consultations)
- having established a bona fide client relationship, get the client to arrange for someone else who is well, not isolating, and has not been in contact with the person who is sick or isolating, to bring the animal to the clinic and wait outside while you see the animal.
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