Following the national lockdown, Coronavirus restrictions for parents and children have been updated. Parents and carers can continue to access childcare through early years settings (including nurseries and childminders) , which remain open. Childminders should continue to allow children to attend as normal except for school-aged children. Childminders caring for school-aged children (including reception children) should only admit vulnerable children and children of critical workers.
Childcare bubbles and support bubbles are both still permitted, but you can only form a support bubble with another household of any size if you meet the eligibility rules, . It is against the law to form a support bubble if you do not follow the following rules.
You are permitted to leave your home to visit your support bubble (and to stay overnight with them). However, if you form a support bubble, it is best if this is with a household who live locally. This will help prevent the virus spreading from an area where more people are infected.
If you live in a household with anyone aged under 14, you can form a childcare bubble. This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare. You must not meet socially with your childcare bubble, and must avoid seeing members of your childcare and support bubbles at the same time. Additionally, A parent can exercise with any number of children from their own household or support bubble. If a parent is meeting one other person for outdoor exercise who is not in their own household or support bubble, children under 5 would be exempt from this gathering limit.
There are some circumstances in which you are still allowed to meet others from outside your household, childcare or support bubble in larger groups, but this should not be for socialising and only for permitted purposes:
- for work, or providing voluntary or charitable services, where it is unreasonable to do so from home. This can include work in other people’s homes where necessary - for example, for nannies, cleaners, social care workers providing support to children and families, or tradespeople. Where a work meeting does not need to take place in a private home or garden, it should not - for example, although you can meet a personal trainer, you should do so in a public outdoor place.
- in a childcare bubble (for the purposes of childcare only)
- where eligible to use these services, for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children. Access to education and childcare facilities is restricted.
- for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
- to allow contact between birth parents and children in care, as well as between siblings in care
- for prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
- to place or facilitate the placing of a child or children in the care of another by social services
- for birth partners
A full list of circumstances permitted by the regulations can be viewed here.
Support groups that have to be delivered in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support. This includes, but is not limited to, support to victims of crime, people in drug and alcohol recovery, new parents and guardians, people with long-term illnesses, people facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, and those who have suffered bereavement, and vulnerable young people, including for them to meet youth workers.
Support groups, such as for breastfeeding, postnatal, and baby and toddler groups, for the provision of support for parents and their children, that are necessary to deliver in person, can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support. This includes where parents and carers meet other parents and carers with or without their young children. This would not typically permit parent-and-child groups focused on social or development activities, such as singalong groups or art classes.
Guidance on Education and childcare during Coronavirus (COVID-19) is available at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/education-and-childcare