We’re keeping some essential services open during lockdown


The UK’s second national lockdown is here, and unlike our blanket stance in the first lockdown, we’ve decided to close all but some essential home services.

We’re keeping osteopathy, physiotherapy and essential remedial massage open

You can still book osteopathy, physiotherapy and two types of remedial massage (essential sports massage and essential deep tissue massage) to your home for issues that can’t be managed with self-care. 

You can book as usual through the ‘essential treatments‘ section of the app and website, but note that before your booking your pro will direct message you with a few pre-screening questions for Covid-19 safety and to make sure a home visit is definitely right. If it’s not, they’ll advise what you can do instead and we’ll refund you in full. 

Read more about our in-person treatment safety measures >

These safety-adapted services are allowed to stay open in line with government guidelines

We know there’s a lot of confusion out there and legislation that leaves room for different opinions and interpretations, so we wanted to take a moment to talk through our reasoning and reassure you that our stance is legal under current government policy. We’ve thought the safety implications through carefully.

At Urban, our top priority is to protect the health and safety of our community of self-employed practitioners and our app users, as well as doing our part to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Part of that is about making sure that people affected by health conditions, injury or disability can access services essential for ongoing health in a way that’s as Covid-secure as possible. The benefits of this are both physical and mental.

What the legislation and guidelines say

The latest government guidelines appear to support a need-based approach. Here’s a direct extract that talks about which services can operate:

  • Businesses allowed to remain open during national lockdown include “dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health”

In section 86.9 of the current UK Standard Industrial Classification of Economic Activities (2007), the government defines ‘other human health activities’ as: “activities for human health not performed by hospitals or by medical doctors or dentists: activities of nurses, midwives, physiotherapists or other paramedical practitioners in the field of optometry, hydrotherapy, medical massage, occupational therapy, speech therapy, chiropody, homeopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture etc”.

What about mobile services?

  • The current guidelines for indoor gatherings allow people from outside your household to visit for ‘work purposes’, where reasonably necessary.
  • The above UK Standard Industrial Classification of Economic Activities document also mentions in section 86.90 that “medical massage” “not performed by hospitals or by medical doctors or dentists” (…) “may be carried out in health clinics such as those attached to firms, schools, homes for the elderly, labour organisations and fraternal organisations and in residential health facilities other than hospitals, as well as in own consulting rooms, patients’ homes or elsewhere.”

Who can perform essential health services

Initially, there was some discussion within the industry around what level qualifications massage practitioners in particular would need to have to work in homes.

Here’s the guidance that supports our understanding that Level 3, Level 4 and Level 5-qualified massage therapists (as well as degree-qualified osteopaths and physiotherapists) are allowed to perform essential services:

  • As mentioned above, “other medical or health services” are allowed to remain open
  • According to the Register of Regulated Qualifications, a large proportion of L3 massage certificates and diplomas are classified as belonging to the health and social care sector. Since no government guidelines or legislation distinguish between L3 and other higher levels of qualification within the health and social care sector, any qualification belonging to this sector would be allowed to continue health related activities based on the arguments above.

Stay home, stay safe, but seek support if you really need it

Based on our research into this topic as well as consideration of the safety, moral and societal issues surrounding it, we’re making at-home remedial treatments on Urban available to those who cannot manage their issue through self-care alone.

We strongly believe that these services offer vital support for patients. By facilitating early intervention to prevent longer-term musculoskeletal issues, we also aim to lessen the need for NHS referral down the line.

We’ll update you if government guidelines change

As we said at the start, we know there are lots of differing views on this topic at the moment and you may find different interpretations of these laws and guidelines elsewhere. We’re open to these opinions and will always reconsider our stance if new scientific evidence emerges to contradict it, or if the law changes.

If you have further questions or concerns in the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Customer Support team via in-app chat.

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