In terms of childcare the rules set out by the Government for Tier 4 are as follows:
There are several ways that parents and carers can continue to access childcare in Tier 4 areas:
- early years settings and childminders remain open, and you can continue to use these settings as normal
- you can access other childcare activities (including wraparound care) where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education or training, a medical appointment or respite care
- nannies will be able to continue to provide services, including in the home
- parents are able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under
You might be able to form a childcare bubble to provide or receive childcare from one other household if you live with someone under the age of 14.
However, you must not meet socially with your childcare bubble, and must avoid seeing members of your childcare and support bubbles at the same time, unless otherwise permitted by gathering limits in your tier.
A childcare bubble is where one household links with one other household to provide informal childcare to anyone under 14. All adults in both households must agree to this arrangement. ‘Informal’ childcare means it is unpaid and unregistered.
Members of either household can provide childcare in a home or public place. This includes overnight care.
- You can only have one childcare bubble with one other household. This means no household should be part of more than one childcare bubble.
- You can only use a childcare bubble for childcare. You cannot use a childcare bubble to mix with another household for other reasons.
- If you form a childcare bubble, it’s best if this is with a household who live locally. This will help prevent the virus spreading from an area where more people are infected
Changing your support bubble
Where possible, you should avoid changing your support bubble. This will help prevent spreading the virus between households. If necessary – for example, your circumstances or that of your existing support bubble changes – you may form a new support bubble provided that:
- your household, or the one you intend to form a new support bubble with, meets at least one of the eligibility rules
- the other household is not already part of a support bubble which they intend to remain a part of
If you decide to change your support bubble, you should treat your previous bubble as a separate household for 10 days before forming a new bubble. This means following the rules on meeting people from other households in the tier you are in
A support bubble is a support network which links 2 households. You have to meet certain eligibility rules to form a support bubble. This means not everyone will be able to form a support bubble.
Once you’re in a support bubble, you can think of yourself as being in one ‘household’. It means you can have close contact with the other household in your bubble as if they were members of your own household. This means you do not need to maintain social distance with people in your support bubble.
You should continue to follow social distancing guidance with people outside of your household or support bubble. This is critical to keeping you, your family and friends as safe as possible.
If you form a support bubble, it is best if this is with a household who live locally. This will help prevent the virus spreading from an area where more people are infected.
Who can make a support bubble
Not everybody can form a support bubble. However, on 2 December the rules changed to widen eligibility for forming one.
You can form a support bubble with another household of any size if:
- you live by yourself – even if carers visit you to provide support
- you are the only adult in your household who does not need continuous care as a result of a disability
- your household includes a child who is under the age of one or was under that age on 2 December 2020
- your household includes a child with a disability who requires continuous care and is under the age of 5, or was under that age on 2 December 2020
- you are aged 16 or 17 living with others of the same age and without any adults
- you are a single adult living with one or more children who are under the age of 18 or were under that age on 12 June 2020
You should not form a support bubble with a household that is part of another support bubble.
If you share custody of your child with someone you do not live with
If you share custody of a child with someone you do not live with, the child can move freely between both parents’ households. You do not need to form a support bubble to do this.
You can form a support bubble if you are eligible.
How support bubbles relate to other types of bubble
A support bubble is different to a childcare bubble. Being in a support bubble does not stop you from forming a childcare bubble.