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Announcing the move, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said every local authority in England would be labelled tier one, tier two or tier three. Tier one is for areas which are at “medium” risk of coronavirus, while tier two translates to “high” and tier three meaning “very high”. The question of grandparents babysitting has been one often discussed throughout the pandemic, with many parents struggling to keep up with work without the vital addition of free childcare.
Can grandparents babysit in tier 2?
Even now that children have returned to school, the care from grandparents is a vital one which many families can’t afford to lose.
Initially, many grandparents were classed in the vulnerable category which meant looking after grandchildren was out of bounds.
However, the Government advice has since moved away from this notion.
Speaking about parents using grandparents for childcare in September, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “a very significant problem in terms of the spread of the disease”.
Asked about grandparents caring for children, Mr Hancock said: “That’s actually a very significant problem in terms of the spread of the disease as while children are hardly affected in terms of getting ill, we know that they can transmit the disease and know where people are older – and most grandparents are older – are more likely to die from the disease.
“So especially with schools back, the transmission of the disease from children to grandparents is one of the things we are worried about clinically.”
Though the rules seem to be changing fast, the Government hasn’t issued any new guidance on grandparents looking after grandchildren.
Mr Hancock previously changed restrictions so that even areas in local lockdown where there was no mixing of households, there could still be an informal childcare arrangement such as asking for grandparents’ help.
The Government has not spoken out about these existing rules, even in tier 3 areas like Liverpool, so it still stands until further advice is issued.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Hancock previously said: “I’ve heard the concerns about the impact of local action on childcare arrangements.
“For many, informal childcare arrangements are a lifeline without which they couldn’t do their jobs.
“So, today, I am able to announce a new exemption for looking after children under the age of 14 or vulnerable adults where that is necessary for caring purposes.
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“This covers both formal and informal arrangements.
“It does not allow for play dates or parties, but it does mean that a consistent childcare relationship that is vital for somebody to get to work is allowed.
“I hope this change will provide clarity and comfort to many people who are living with these local restrictions.”
In his latest statement to the House of Commons on October 12, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked about whether informal childcare was still allowed.
However, the Prime Minister failed to answer and reiterated the Government policy of providing 30 hours a week of free childcare to parents.
In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a further national ban on the public mixing with other households.
However, Ms Sturgeon made exemptions that mean family and friends can help provide informal childcare during lockdown in Scotland.
It is still worth considering if grandparents and relatives are in the vulnerable category, however, before inviting them into your home.
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