What does the new lockdown mean for childcare in England?
From 5 November, new lockdown regulations have been introduced in England as part of the government’s efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19. Our readers have asked us to explain what this means for childcare arrangements.
Parents can still form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, if the child is 13 or under.
You can also still form a support bubble with another household if you live in a single-adult household—meaning that you live by yourself or with children who were under 18 on 12 June 2020.
If you share custody of your child with someone you do not live with and you live in a single-adult household, you can form a support bubble with another household other than the one that includes your child’s other parent. If you live in a household with other adults, you can still form a support bubble with a single-adult household other than your child’s parent. You should not change your support bubble once it is formed.
The government recommends against travelling far for your support bubble to prevent the spread of infection.
Under the new rules, you can exercise or meet outside in a public space with people you live with or who are in your support bubble, or one other person if you are not also with others. What is different from previous lockdowns is that the government has said children under the age of five do not count towards this total. This means that a parent of a young child would still be able to meet outside with someone they do not live with and bring their child.
There are still some circumstances where you can meet in larger groups. This includes support groups that have to be delivered in person, including groups for new parents and guardians. These groups can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or other support. Parent and child groups can continue if they provide support to the parent and/or child, and children under five are not counted within the 15 person limit.
Early years settings and childminders can remain open and be accessed as normal by parents of children under the age of five, and nannies can continue to provide services in the home.
Out of school activities, including wraparound care, can still operate if they are providing registered childcare or other childcare activities, where this is “reasonably necessary” to allow parents to work, attend education or training, or to provide respite for carers or parents. Out of school activities used by home educating parents for the education of their child—such as tuition centres, private tutors or supplementary schools—can continue operating.
Most youth clubs and groups will have to close, but the government guidance says some youth support services such as 1-1 youth work and support groups can continue. Providing childcare and supervised activities for children is one of the reasons that certain businesses and venues, for example places of worship, can open.