COVID-19 Lockdown 3: What Parents & Carers need to knowby Laura Driver
England starts their third COVID-19 Lockdown at 00.01am on the 6th of January 2021. All schools are now closed (except for key worker and vulnerable children) in England. Here is what you need to know.
1. Stay at home
- You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:
- shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
- go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
- exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
- meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
- seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
- attend education or childcare – for those eligible
Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open.
Higher Education provision will remain online until mid February for all except future critical worker courses.
If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live. You may leave your local area for a legally permitted reason, such as for work.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work.
2. Staying safe outside the home (Social Distancing)
You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).
You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.
You should not meet other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.
Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.
Remember – ‘Hands. Face. Space’
3. Meeting with family and friends
You should minimise time spent outside your home.
It is against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble. You can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting). This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
You can exercise in a public outdoor place:
● by yourself
● with the people you live with
● with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
● in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
● or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household
Public outdoor places include:
● parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
● public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
● the grounds of a heritage site
Outdoor sports venues, including tennis courts, golf courses and swimming pools, must close.
When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household – meaning the people you live with – or your support bubble.
Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (e.g. wearing a face covering).
You must wear a face covering in many indoor settings, such as shops or places of worship where these remain open, and on public transport, unless you are exempt.
This is the law.
4. Support and childcare bubbles
You have to meet certain eligibility rules to form a support or childcare bubble. This means not everyone will be able to form a bubble.
A support bubble is a support network which links two households. You can form a support bubble with another household of any size only if you meet the eligibility rules.
It is against the law to form a support bubble if you do not follow these 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.
There is separate guidance for support bubbles and childcare bubbles
Where and when you can meet in larger groups
There are still circumstances in which you are 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. A full list of these circumstances will be included in the regulations, and includes:
● 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. See guidance on working safely in
other people’s homes). 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. See further information on education and childcare.
● 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
● to provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
● to see someone who is dying
● to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
● for gatherings within criminal justice accommodation or immigration detention centres
● to provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable, or to provide respite for a carer
4. Essential Services
- Food shops, supermarkets, garden centres and certain other retailers providing essential goods and services can remain open. Essential retail should follow COVID-secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.
- Playgrounds can remain open.
- Hospitality venues like restaurants, bars and pubs must close, but can still provide takeaway and delivery services. However, takeaway of alcohol will not be allowed.
5. Going to school, college and university
Colleges, primary (reception onwards) and secondary schools will remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term.
In the circumstances, we do not think it is possible for all exams in the summer to go ahead as planned. We will accordingly be working with Ofqual to consult rapidly to put in place alternative arrangements that will allow students to progress fairly.
6. Childcare and children’s activities
- Parents will still be able to access some registered childcare and other childcare activities (including wraparound care) where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, or for the purposes of respite care.
- Early years settings can remain open.
- Parents are able to form a childcare bubble with another household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under. As above, some households will also be able to benefit from being in a support bubble, which allows single adult households to join another household.
- Some youth services may be able to continue, such as 1-1 youth work and support groups, but most youth clubs and groups will need to cease for this period.
You can only travel internationally – or within the UK – where you first have a legally permitted reason to leave home. In addition, you should consider the public health advice in the country you are visiting.
If you do need to travel overseas (and are legally permitted to do so, for example, because it is for work), even if you are returning to a place you’ve visited before, you should look at the rules in place at your destination and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice.
UK residents currently abroad do not need to return home immediately. However, you should check with your airline or travel operator on arrangements for returning.
More information can be found here