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Family Law

Lockdown 3.0 – How does this impact childcare arrangements?

Childcare bubble

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

England will return to many of the toughest restrictions imposed in March last year as the new variant of coronavirus spreads rapidly across the country.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced last night that England will be placed under a third national lockdown. The new restrictions will become law on Wednesday and are expected to last until mid-February.

The key headlines for parents to note are as follows:

  • From today all primary and secondary schools will move to remote working until February half-term.
  • Vulnerable children and those of key workers can continue going to school.
  • Nurseries and childminders to remain open
  • Nannies can still provide services, including in the home.
  • Children (aged under 18 years) with separated parents can move freely between parents’ homes.
  • Support bubbles and informal childcare bubbles remain unaffected.

What is a support bubble?

A support bubble is the linking of two households. Not everyone can form a support bubble.

You can form a support bubble with another household if:

  • You live by yourself; or
  • Your household includes a child who is under the age of 1 or was under that age on 2 December 2020;
  • You are a single adult household living with one or more child under the age of 18 or were under that age on 12 June 2020;
  • You are the only adult in your household who does not need continuous care as a result of a disability; or
  • Your household includes a child with a disability who requires constant care and is under the age of 5 or was under that age on 2 December 2020.
  • You should not form a support bubble with a household that is part of another support bubble.
  • Separated parents – Children can move freely between parents’ homes. You do NOT need to form a support bubble to do this.
  • A support bubble is separate to an informal childcare bubble.
  • If you need to change your support bubble, you need to wait 10 days. In the meantime, you must not have any contact with your previous support bubble.
  • If anyone in your support bubble develops COVID symptoms or tests positive for COVID everyone in that bubble must follow the “stay at home” rules

What is an informal childcare bubble?

  • One household links with another household to provide informal childcare to children aged under 14 years
  • Members of either household can provide childcare in their home (including overnight).
  • A childcare bubble can be formed in addition to a support bubble.
  • Separated parents – a child can move between both parents’ homes. This does NOT count as a childcare bubble. Each parent can form its own childcare bubble with one other household.
  • If you need to change your childcare bubble, you need to wait 10 days. In the meantime, you must not have any contact with your previous childcare bubble.
  • The childcare bubble must stop when everyone in that bubble reaches the age of 14
  • If anyone in your childcare bubble develops COVID symptoms or tests positive for COVID everyone in that bubble must follow the “stay at home” rules

We appreciate that during the pandemic there has been much confusion and ambiguity in regards to some of the guidance, added to that, many changes to the rules which at times have been difficult to interpret.  We are here to help you through these challenging, and often difficult months.

If you need any advice, guidance or support, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly and caring team.  We have a number of ways that you can have contact with us depending on your preference and situation; you can call us on 0191 232 8451, email familydepartment@samuelphillips.co.uk, use our live chat facility on our website www.samuelphillips.co.uk or arrange a Zoom or a Teams video call.

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