The association said that every practice should now be carrying out individual risk assessments, and consider whether it is “appropriate” to continue with routine consultations.
According to new guidelines, practices should also practice social distancing measures, such as asking clients to wait in the car park rather than the waiting room, triaging via the telephone and considering alternate rota models.
The group also recognised that “difficult decisions are likely to come” when assessing whether to attend to the animal of a person in self-isolation or diagnosed with the virus.
It also asked vets to practice “appropriate hygiene and biosecurity precautions” if it is deemed necessary to see a patient for animal welfare reasons.
Vets, prescribers and retailers of veterinary medicine have also been asked to continue with normal ordering patterns to maintain “appropriate and proportionate” stocks. If this is undertaken, the BVA said there should be “no need for additional stocks”.
Meanwhile, the veterinary body will also be lobbying the UK government to secure relief for the industry.
In England, it will write to the government to ask for assurance that the proposed business rates retail discount in England is extended to veterinary practices, and that it extends beyond the £51,000 rateable value.
In Scotland, it will lobby for the 75% business rates relief to include veterinary businesses, and also engage with the Welsh government to explain how the pandemic is affecting veterinary practices.
BVA president, Daniella Dos Santos, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has left many of us worried for ourselves, our friends, our families and our businesses, and it’s imperative that we all work together and support each other, understanding that there are difficult times ahead for all of us.
“The health and safety of the members of our profession is paramount, and we would urge all vets to follow the current government and RCVS advice.”
She added: “It is likely over the coming weeks, due to self-isolation or social distancing measures, that the workforce will be stretched.
“Some of us will become ill, some of us will need to care for others, and it is vital that we all work together as a profession to mitigate any impacts on our own and our colleagues’ wellbeing, as well as serious animal welfare impacts, as much as possible.”