Coronavirus BRIEFING

Vision Innovation Partners Announces Suspension of Most Office Services, Warby Parker Informs Customers of Store Closures for Two Weeks Due to Coronavirus

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NEW YORK and ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Two vision care businesses are among the first groups in the U.S. to announce that they will be instituting closures of their offices and store networks to prevent the spread of the oronavirus (COVID-19). In an announcement late yesterday, Vision Innovation Partners, a leading provider of ophthalmology services in the Mid-Atlantic region, said they are suspending all non-emergent appointments and surgeries for at least two weeks throughout its entire network, which consists of 14 practices, 29 practice locations and seven surgery centers across Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. On Saturday, Warby Parker posted a notice to its site from founders Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa that the group would "temporarily close all of our stores from March 15 through March 27 for the safety of our customers, our employees, and the general public." Warby Parker's e-commerce site and its Prescription Check app will remain live.

In its statement, Vision Innovation Partners said, "The organization has been closely monitoring the situation since the onset of the pandemic and instituted a physician-led pandemic task force dedicated to implementing a proactive response to this virus, including ensuring proper training, sanitation and sterilization processes were in place. As leaders in our industry, it is our responsibility to set the example and inspire the change for others to follow in our footsteps. We at Vision Innovation Partners believe in social responsibility and that our actions will set the tone for the ophthalmic community. We are a health care community, regardless of specialty, and must do our part to isolate this virus in an effort to reduce the burden on our currently taxed health care system,” said Vision Innovation Partners pandemic coordinator Kerry Gooch.

“We strongly value that our patients, our staff and our communities are a vital part of our organization. In an effort to “flatten the curve” and contain the spread of the community-based transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the stakeholders and pandemic task force have decided to reduce our clinic to only emergent care. We have reviewed the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) in addition to findings from other countries that have worked to contain the virus,” said Vision Innovation Partners CEO Michael Dunn. “The task force team and our senior leaders feel strongly that our best approach, as leaders in the ophthalmic community, is to take prompt action and reduce the risk of exposure.”

Vision Innovation Partners' two-week closure went into into effect yesterday, March 16, for all clinics and surgery centers. During these two weeks, operations will remain under limited supervision only to address emergent care needs, while the organization and its task force continue to monitor the situation and recommendations from the CDC, AAO, and the state and local health agencies within its footprint.

For Warby Parker, its posted statement read, in part, "COVID-19 is impacting all of us—as individuals and as communities—in unprecedented ways. Given the rapidly changing environment, we have decided to temporarily close all of our stores through March 27 for the safety of our customers, our employees, and the general public. Our retail team members will continue to be paid as if they were working in stores during this time."

The company added, "We are continuing to operate our Home Try-On program, as well as our Virtual Try-On tool in the Warby Parker app, so that you can easily try on glasses wherever, whenever. We will continue to provide you with exceptional customer service via phone, email, text message, and live chat."