Updated 06/04/2021 

Density rules relaxed for South Australian optometry practices

The South Australian Government has relaxed the density requirements for optometry (and a wide variety of other indoor locations), with three people now allowed per four square meters of indoor space.

The ‘Emergency Management (Public Activites No 21) (COVID-19) Direction 2021’ outlines these changes.

Updated 18/01/2021

SA Health has asked all health professionals to continue to ensure they are implementing appropriate infection control protocols including PPE use where indicated.  More information can be found in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Infection Control Guide for Allied Health professionals and Factsheet for infection control advice.

Update on 17.12.20

From 14-22 December masks are mandatory at all times in health care settings for optometrists and practice staff (surgical masks) and patients (surgical or cloth). Optometrists should use their clinical judgement to decide whether to request a patient to replace a cloth mask with a surgical mask. All other COVID-related advice and requirements including COVID-Safe plans, contact tracing, infection control and density limits remain unchanged.

From 23 December onwards masks will be downgraded from mandatory to ‘strongly encouraged’. Optometrists and practice staff are encouraged to continue to wear surgical masks where a physical distance of 1.5m cannot be guaranteed. All other COVID-related advice and requirements including COVID-Safe plans, contact tracing, infection control and density limits remain unchanged.

The latest SA Health directive on face masks can be read here. The most recent Emergency Management Public Activities Directive is available in full here.

Density requirements have been redefined: the total number of people in the practice now must not exceed 1 person per 2 square metres.

‘People employed or engaged to work, or undertaking official duties, for the purposes of a defined public activity are not to be counted for the purposes of this clause.’ Click here for reference on website.

The latest Public Activity Requirements for South Australia (which include Health Services) have also now been amended.

The Acting Chief Allied Health Officer extends her apologies to members for the inconvenience caused by slow and incomplete advice over recent weeks. Following feedback from allied health professions including OV/SA, additional steps have been implemented to enhance the communication process.

Update on 01.12.2020

New Information from the Public Health Network, provided by SA health on the 30th of November updated;

“New COVID-19 Direction Update – Relevant to All Health Care Services

SA Health today announced a new Direction which will come into effect at midnight tonight (Tuesday 1 December 12:01am).

The Direction details requirements for all health care facilities – including but not limited to general practices, private and public medical specialists, pharmacy, mental health services, drug and alcohol services, allied health services, community health services, sexual health services, Aboriginal community controlled health services, dental services, immunisation services, disability and aged care services.

As detailed in Dr. Emily Kirkpatrick’s COVID-19 Update to GPs today, under the new direction, all health care services:

  • Will be required to have a COVID Safe Plan.
  • The COVID Safe plan for healthcare settings must include a contact tracing system, such as the COVID Safe Check-In. There will be initial leniency as healthcare setting establish this.
  • All people (including patients, patient’s family members, health care staff, administrative staff, contractors and cleaning staff) are required to wear single use surgical masks when on health care sites. Cloth masks are not sufficient for healthcare settings.
  • There are exceptions to mask wearing in some situations, such as, certain breathing difficulties, mental health conditions, communication with deaf or hard or hearing community members, people under the age of 12.
  • Density requirements should be 1 person per 4 square metre. Density requirements do not include people employed at the practice.

SA Health have advised that more detailed information, including FAQs and a poster for facilities will be available later today.

Options for Your Health Service’s Approach to PPE

Based on current advice from SA Health, health providers might consider the following options for those seeking care at their services:

  • provide single use surgical masks to all patients and those with them (either at your own cost or by adding the cost to your gap or fee if you charge one)
  • advise each patient that they can only attend your service wearing a single use surgical mask – including anyone who attends the appointment with them
  • provide telehealth options website: https://www.detpak.com/products/face-masks2/ and enter the following codes to utilise this offer:
    • Code word: Medical – Enter the promo code at the checkout when purchasing the bulk pack of 960 – to bring the price to $0.96 per mask
      • Code word: Medicalretail – ​​​​​​​Enter the promo code at the checkout when purchasing the retail pack of 40 – to bring the price to $0.96 per mask”

Advice from September

SA Health suggests conducting a risk assessment (see their page on Infection control and personal protective equipment (PPE) advice);

If the patient is considered low risk;

Need more information?
If you require further COVID-19 clarification or advice, please don’t hesitate to contact the Optometry Australia Optometry Advisor Helpdesk on 03 9668 8500 or at national@optometry.org.au



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