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NEWS: New Covid-19 three tiered system announced in England

This afternoon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken in the House of Commons to announce the new three tiered system for local Covid-19 levels across England to be in force from Wednesday 14 October. As part of his speech, he was clear that his intentions were for educational settings to remain open at all levels. There is expected to be a national broadcast later this evening. The three levels set out were:

Medium
This level will cover most of country and will consist of current national measures. This includes the current rule of six and closure of hospitality at 10pm.

  • Childcare at medium:
    • There are exceptions from legal gatherings limits for registered childcare, education or training, and supervised activities provided for children – including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups. This means you can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders, after-school clubs and nannies. See guidance on working safely in other people’s homes.

    • Family and friends can continue to provide informal childcare as long as groups from different households don’t exceed 6 people. You should, wherever possible, keep your distance from people you do not live with (unless you have formed a support bubble with them).

    • The tiers of restriction for education and childcare, summarised in annex 3 of the contain framework and in guidance on higher education, are separate to the local COVID alert level framework. Decisions on any restrictions necessary in education or childcare settings are taken separately on a case-by-case basis in light of local circumstances, including information about the incidence and transmission of COVID-19.

High
This level will reflect interventions in many local areas at the moment. This level aims to reduce household to household transmission to prevent all mixing between houses. Rule of six only applies outdoors and in private gardens. Many areas already on local restrictions will be at this level.

  • Childcare at high:
    • There are exceptions from legal gatherings limits for registered childcare, education or training, and supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups. This means you can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders, after-school clubs and nannies. See guidance on working safely in other people’s homes.

    • The following people can provide childcare support in private homes and gardens:

      • registered childcare providers, including nannies
      • people in your support bubble
      • people in your childcare bubble
    • 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. For any given childcare bubble, this must always be between the same 2 households.

    • Friends 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.

    • The tiers of restriction for education and childcare, summarised in annex 3 of the contain framework and in guidance on higher education, are separate to the local COVID alert level framework. 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.

Very high
This level will apply where transmission rates are rising most rapidly. Government will stop social mixing indoors and outside plus closing bars and pubs. Additions to this closure list may change in local areas, for example in Merseyside closures also include gyms and other.

  • Childcare at very high:
    • There are exceptions from legal gatherings limits for registered childcare, education or training, and supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups. This means you can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders, after-school clubs and nannies. See guidance on working safely in other people’s homes.

    • The following people can provide childcare support in private homes and gardens:

      • registered childcare providers, including nannies
      • people in your support bubble
      • people in your childcare bubble
    • 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. This must always be between the same 2 households.

    • Friends 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.

    • The tiers of restriction for education and childcare, summarised in annex 3 of the contain framework and in guidance on higher education, are separate to the local COVID alert level framework. 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.

Liz Bayram, Chief Executive at the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) comments:
“The move to a three-tiered system of local lockdowns in England, as set out by the Prime Minister in his statement this afternoon in the House of Commons, continues to maintain the commitment made some time ago that childcare and early years settings alongside schools, will remain open even at the highest tier of local lockdown. This is a lifeline for the childminders, nurseries and pre-schools operating in these areas but does nothing to address the ongoing challenges providers in all areas are facing – increased costs, lower than usual attendance and temporary closures due to suspected cases of Covid-19. PACEY continues to call for more financial support for these vital services, so they will survive the pandemic and play their part in not only our economic recovery but in supporting children, especially disadvantaged children, to get the best start in life. 

We are also aware that no decisions have currently been made by Welsh Government around any further national measures at this time and that these are being considered alongside the evidence that looks at how well local lockdowns have worked in Wales.  We will continue to share any developments as these are announced but childcare in Wales is able to currently remain open even in areas where local lockdowns are in place.”