Lockdown is easing - what are the latest rules for families with children?

With lockdown restrictions easing from the 29th March we look at the impact that the new rules will have on families, parents and children

29th March 2021 is the next step in the government's proposed roadmap out of lockdown, this article aims to look at what these changes mean for families, parents, and children. Do remember that the self-isolation rules do supersede this guidance and therefore if you are required to self-isolate, you and those within your household must do so.

Rule of 6

The ‘rule of six’ that we will all remember from 2020 is back. The basic rule which applies from 29th March 2021 allows for:

  • Up to 6 people from up to 6 different households to meet outdoors; or
  • Two families from two different households to meet outdoors regardless of the number of people.

When considering the rule of six, it is helpful to remember that meeting outdoors, includes meeting in private gardens. You can therefore invite another household to sit in your garden. They can walk through your home to get to the garden and can use the toilet facilities inside the house. The government recommend the use of face coverings when moving around indoor spaces and sanitizing your hands before and after you move around indoor spaces.

The other helpful point to remember is that, if you have a support bubble, you and your support bubble count as a single household for the purposes of the rule of six meaning your household, your support bubble and a second household could all meet outdoors.

Child Arrangements

There is no change on the rules surrounding separated families and children spending time indoors and staying overnight at the home of, either of their parents. Separated parents can continue to spend their usual time with their children, inside, outside and overnight.

Where your child lives some distance away, it is possible to stay overnight in a hotel or B and B if the stay is for the purpose of enabling you to spend time with your child.

Do remember that where a parent or child is self-isolating, whether this is because they have Covid-19 symptoms or a positive test themselves, a member of their household has symptoms or a positive test, or the child has been sent home from school as someone else has tested positive/NHS track and trace advises the individual to stay at home, contact between the child and the parent with whom they are not with, must not take place until the period of self-isolation has ended.

Childcare

Childcare bubbles continue to apply and therefore, if you require a family member or friend to provide informal care for your children, this can only be done indoors if you are eligible to form a childcare bubble. Therefore, if want granny and grandad or someone outside of your childcare bubble to care for the children, or you are not eligible to form a childcare bubble, this care must be provided outdoors under the rule of six.

However, if your child/ren is over 5, you can now use registered childcare, childminders, wraparound care and other supervised children’s activities indoors where it is reasonably necessary to enable parents to, work, seek work, attend education, seek medical care of attend a support group. Vulnerable children, children under 5 and children eligible to receive free school meals, can access these irrespective of the circumstances.

All children can access outdoor supervised activities outdoors regardless of their circumstances.

Parent and child groups can now take place outdoors if they are for the benefit of children under 5 and organised by a business, charity or public body. These cannot take place in private gardens and must only take place in outdoor spaces.

Support groups which provide support functions for parents, or their children, which need to be delivered in person, may continue to meet indoors. These includes for example, help with breastfeeding, postnatal support and baby and toddler groups. These groups must be formally arranged and a maximum of 15 people can attend.

Sports and Activities

Formally organised outdoor sports can once again take place and therefore the children’s extra-curricular activities are likely to resume.

Outdoor sport and leisure facilities can also reopen.

Summer Holidays

Presently international travel is not permitted (other than for a specified essential purpose). Guidance on international travel is due to be released by the government in April 2021.

Overnight stays, including in second homes, are not permitted at this stage. The rules on this are expected to relax on 12 April 2021 at the earliest.

Next Steps

The next key date to watch out for is 12 April.

The current guidance that applies from 29 March can be located here

During this difficult time, it is easy for disputes to arise concerning the arrangements for children. If you have any queries concerning arrangements for your children, please do contact us for advice and support. We are here for you and will do what it takes to advise you through this period.

Specific questions about your situation? Seek expert legal advice

We hope that this article provides a good base level of what you can do if the lockdown restrictions affect you and we appreciate that it can be a very difficult and frustrating time for parents and children alike.

Please note, each situation is different and we recommend instructing a solicitor should you wish for questions to be answered specifically about your situation. We are unable to provide free legal advice.

CONTACT SIMRAN

If you would like more information or advice relating to this article or a Family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Simran Gupta on 01727 798065.

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Every care is taken in the preparation of our articles. However, no responsibility can be accepted to any person who acts on the basis of information contained in them alone. You are recommended to obtain specific advice in respect of individual cases.