SA Introduces Additional COVID Protections for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Workers

Tuesday 28 July 2020 @ 12.28 p.m. | Crime | Legal Research

On 21 July 2020, the South Australian Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade, introduced the COVID-19 Emergency Response (Further Measures) (No 2) Amendment Bill 2020 (SA) (“the Bill”) to the Legislative Council. The Bill passed both houses of Parliament without amendments by 23 July. On 24 July, the Bill was assented to as the COVID-19 Emergency Response (Further Measures) (No 2) Amendment Act 2020 (SA) (“the Act”), and came into operation on the same day.

Amendments under the Act

The Act amends the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 (SA) (“the COVID-19 Act”) to firstly modify the application of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) (“the Criminal Consolidation Act”) to include the following medical professionals within the scope of a prescribed emergency worker:

  1. Pharmacists, pharmacy assistants, and other persons performing duties within a pharmacy
  2. Medical practitioners, nurses, and other persons performing duties where medical treatment or testing is occurring (this is including a general practice, medical centre or place where screening for COVID-19 or other diseases is undertaken)

Section 20AA of the Criminal Consolidation Act provides for a separate offence for the harm, or assault of prescribed emergency workers, and prescribes increased penalties for this offence. Furthermore under section 20AA, assault includes the act of a person which causes human biological material to come into contact with a prescribed emergency worker. This amendment will extend these medical professionals with the same additional protections as other front-line health workers.

The Act also amends the COVID-19 Act in order to modify the application and the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) Act 2010 (SA) in regards to the operation of pharmacy premises. This amendment enables the Pharmacy Regulation Authority of South Australia (“the Regulation Authority”) to authorise certain premises to operate without a pharmacist being in physical attendance, as long as the pharmacist is remotely available. The pharmacist can be connected remotely through the use of a computer, video, or audio link.

This amendment aims to support pharmacies run in rural and remote communities, especially in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Regulation Authority must be satisfied that there is a demonstrable need for the service before authorising remote attendance of a pharmacist at the premise. The Regulation Authority will also be able to limit the kinds of communication to be used in the circumstances.

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COVID-19 Emergency Response (Further Measures) (No 2) Amendment Act 2020 (SA), Bill, and explanatory materials available from TimeBase's LawOne Service

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