COMMENT: Will you let them in?

As a previous optometry practice owner, I have been thinking about the vaccination question owners and staff haven’t had to confront until now: ‘Will you let customers into your practice for an eye examination or to browse for eyewear if they are not double- or even single-dose vaccinated?’


Is it a no-brainer answer? Financially, surely you would say, ‘Let them all come; I need them to buy lots of eyewear and contact lenses and have eye examinations so I can pay some overdue bills and wages and claw back what the lockdown has so cruelly taken away.’


The Ministry of Health (MoH) has already had its say as to who can come into your practice, dictated by the different levels of lockdown, and now the MoH has decreed all health workers must be vaccinated. Occupational health and safety requires you to look after your staff, so, if you let someone into the practice who tells you they aren’t vaccinated, are you putting your staff at risk of getting Covid-19? I think you are, unless you have strong systems in place to handle that person in store.


Some things to consider include: Do you give your customers masks? But what if they refuse to wear them, or have exemptions for wearing them? Do all your staff suddenly have to wear masks, all the time? Must your customers sanitise their hands on entry? Will you only let them in after they have answered five health questions or shown you proof of vaccination, or exemption?


You and your teams will need to consider and answer all these questions and many more that are relevant to your practice as we all try to return to some form of business normality.


Jeremy Wong is a therapeutically trained senior optometrist and sports vision specialist, and former practice owner based in Auckland.


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