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How the Latest Lockdown Rules Relates to Childcare

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

boris johnson

COVID life has become the new normal so it's hard not to talk about it. The rules seem to be clear as mud for many of us, the infection rate is bunny-hopping all over the charts and it governs the way we operate day to day. First, we’re told we can have friends over to entertain in our private gardens, then we can’t, then the rule of 6 was introduced. With numbers spiking in the north, October half term being here, many of us are a little confused about what the latest lockdown rules are exactly. Even Boris doesn't seem to have a scooby. It’s particularly tough on those parents, not able to work from home and if you are, finding a way to keep the little ones entertained is a challenge especially if you have a busy work day. Usually playgroups and childcare options are a fantastic way to occupy the kids, but many aren’t sure what we’re legally allowed to do anymore, but I’m going to declutter some of the information, having spent a bit of time reading about it myself.

If you are going to take anything away from this post, know this. According to the government rules childcare arrangements are still possible even with the new 3 tiered restrictions levels in place.

What Are The Tiered System Guidelines?

Just to quickly recap, here’s what you need to be aware of.

Tier One restrictions are the lowest level restrictions that are in place across England (as the home nations have a different set of rules, governed by their respective ministers) including a 10pm sociability/group entertainment curfew and a ban on most gatherings of more than 6 people.

Tier Two restrictions are similar to rules currently in place in parts of the North East, where indoor mixing of households is not allowed. Essentially, two households are allowed to meet in a garden, as long as the rule of six and social distancing are observed.

Tier Three being the highest level, Boris revealed that pubs and bars will close if they fall within areas covered by the strictest level restrictions. Gyms and casinos will also need to shut. However, restaurants and pubs that serve meals will be spared from closure even under the strictest restrictions in the “very high” level.

People in areas at the highest tier level of lockdown are advised not to travel to other areas. According to Boris, these travel restrictions are only advised as guidance rather than law.

So to my point, families are allowed to form “childcare bubbles” with friends and relatives to help them look after their kids.

According to guidelines, a childcare bubble is where someone in one household provides informal (unregistered & unpaid) childcare to a child aged 13 or under in another household.

This has to always be between the same two households. Here’s the thing though, people are still allowed to form childcare and support bubbles across various tiers – meaning friends or relatives in a tier 2 area could travel to look after children in a tier 3, and vice versa. Even knowing this, still makes me scratch my head, but those are the rules.

The government says “People can still form support and childcare bubbles across tiers, although they are encouraged to form these close to their home,” naturally. This has been created to prevent the virus spreading from an area where there might be a higher rate of infection, but wait, there’s more.

What Does This Mean In Terms Of Childcare?

One the lowest tier one level, registered childcare and schools are excluded from the ‘rule of six’. This includes administered activities for kids, like, playgroups. You can continue to use early years childcare, including childminders and after-school clubs.

Family and friends can continue to provide informal childcare as long as groups from different households, as long as they don’t exceed six people.

On tier two, registered childcare are still exempt from the ‘rule of six’. This also includes supervised activities for children.

The following people are allowed to provide childcare support in private gardens and homes in England:

  • Registered childcare providers, including minders

  • People in your childcare & support bubble

On highest level three - The rules are the same for tier 3 as they are for tier 2 at the moment, and are separate to local Covid alert levels. However, the government says decisions on any restrictions necessary in education or childcare are taken separately “on a case-by-case basis, in the light of local circumstances

READ: Looking for fun family entertainment ideas during Lockdown?>

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