We hope that everyone is staying safe and well during these challenging times.
As you will know, Boris Johnson announced plans for a second national lockdown in England, to commence on Thursday 5th November and to run until 2nd December 2020. Although this has to be voted through by Parliament on Wednesday 4th November, providers should plan for that lockdown going ahead.
You can find a full copy of the national lockdown restrictions at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november
Section 1 states that everyone should stay at home, with a number of limited exceptions:
“You must not leave or be outside of your home except for specific purposes. These include:
· for childcare or education, where this is not provided online
· for work purposes, where your place of work remains open and where you cannot work from home (including if your job involves working in other people’s homes)
· to exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place - with the people you live with, with your support bubble or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household (children under school age, as well as those dependent on round-the-clock care, such as those with severe disabilities, who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside).
· for any medical concerns, reasons, appointments and emergencies, or to avoid or escape risk of injury or harm - such as domestic abuse
· shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which should be as infrequent as possible
· to visit members of your support bubble or provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer”
Section 8 specifically refers to children’s activities:
"8. 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."
Whilst there is no specific mention of groups such as baby and toddler groups in the guidance, the CAA current interpretation of the above guidance is that groups which do not fall into the specific limited categories above must stop running in a face-to-face format from Thursday onwards. It is also likely that many venues used by providers will close.
We have seen information circulated on social media over the last 24 hours that the Department of Education is going to release amended guidance to say that baby and toddler groups will be classed as “support” groups and that in light of that they can continue to run. The CAA has not received any confirmation of this and would urge members and providers to exercise caution. If and when any such confirmed government guidance is received we will circulate it to all. In the meantime, providers should ensure that they operate within the guidelines and restrictions issued to date.
We know that the next weeks will be challenging times for everyone. The past months have shown us all what a valuable service our members provide to the families we work with. The last lockdown also showed what a resilient and creative industry we are, will many providers going online to continue deliver their sessions safely to families. We urge our members to keep supporting each other and sharing best practice. The CAA exists to bring members and providers together, to share ideas and resources as well as to provide parents with peace of mind.
Together we are stronger.