Informal childcare and caring arrangements will be allowed to continue even when Covid-19 local lockdown measures are in force, it has been announced.
The Health Secretary said the rules around childcare arrangements will be maintained so to not cause hardship for children and families.
The announcement comes after local lockdown measures restricted movement between households – known as interhousehold mixing – across some parts of the country where a spike in Covid-19 cases was recorded.
However, care bubbles will be allowed to form in “areas of intervention” to allow families and registered carers to share childcare responsibilities with another household.
According to the report, the allowance of care bubbles will allow informal childcare arrangements to continue with another household, “as long as they are consistent”. One-off arrangements, for example, will not be included.
Commenting on the rules, Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “I know how vital all types of childcare are for family life. Whether a friend, relative, or a professional carer, it is essential that our children or dependents are well looked after and loved.
“I have listened to concerns that have been raised around the ban on interhousehold mixing in place for local areas of intervention, and have now introduced a provision for those looking after children under the age of 14. Informal care can also continue for vulnerable adults. I truly sympathise with everyone who lost those vital extra hands to care for a child or loved one, and I hope that this eases their burden.”
According to the latest statistics, around one in three children under the age of four are regularly looked after under an informal or formal childcare arrangement.