October 16, 2020
Half-term is fast-approaching, and with news that London, Essex, York, Chesterfield and parts of Surrey, Derbyshire and Cumbria are to join tier 2 lockdown from midnight Friday, scores of parents are worried about how that could affect their childcare arrangements. 
How Childcare Bubbles Work In The Three Tiers
The good news is, according to the government guidelines, informal childcare arrangements are still possible despite the new tier system. Families are allowed to form “childcare bubbles” with relatives to help them look after their kids. 
“A childcare bubble is where someone in one household provides informal (unpaid and unregistered) childcare to a child aged 13 or under in another household,” the guidelines state. “For any given childcare bubble, this must always be between the same two households.”
A government spokesperson told HuffPost UK people are allowed to form childcare and individual support bubbles across tiers – meaning grandparents in a tier 2 area could travel to look after grandchildren in a tier 3, and vice versa. 
“People can still form support and childcare bubbles across tiers, although they are encouraged to form these close to their home,” they added. This is designed to prevent the virus spreading from an area where there might be a higher rate of infection.Related... As Half Term Looms, Here's What Parents Are Worrying About If you’re not sure exactly how it works, here’s how the rules are laid out, according to the three-tier system. You can check the government online postcode checker on its website to see how the restrictions affect you.Tier 1: MediumRegistered childcare settings and schools are exempt from the ‘rule of six’. This includes supervised activities for children – such as wraparound care, youth groups and activities and playgroups. You can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders, after-school clubs and nannies.
Family and Friends can continue to provide informal childcare as long as groups from different households don’t exceed six people. You should, wherever possible, keep your distance from people you do not live with (unless you have formed a support bubble with them).Related... Coronavirus Tiers: All Your Big Questions Answered Tier 2: HighRegistered childcare settings and schools are still exempt from the ‘rule of six’. This also includes supervised activities for children – such as wraparound care, youth groups and activities and playgroups. You can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders, after-school clubs and nannies.
The following people are allowed to provide childcare support in private homes and gardens:registered childcare providers, including nanniespeople in your support bubblepeople in your childcare bubbleFriends or family who do not live with you and are not part of a support or childcare bubble must not visit your home to help with childcare. Childcare bubbles are to be used to provide childcare only, and not for the purposes of different households mixing where they are otherwise not allowed to do so.Tier 3: Very highThe 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 settings are taken separately “on a case-by-case basis, in the light of local circumstances, including information about the incidence and transmission of Covid-19”.Related... Here's How To Keep Yourself Safe In Covid Hotspots Marcus Rashford Launches New Petition To End Child Hunger Grandparents Will Be Allowed To Look After Children In Local Lockdown Areas, Matt Hancock Says
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