Last reviewed 14 October 2020

A new three-tier strategy of local lockdown measures for England has been announced by Boris Johnson in an effort to curb rising Covid-19 rates.

The Prime Minister told the House of Commons that this will "simplify and standardise" local lockdown rules and the new system will come into force from Wednesday 14 October.

He confirmed the Government’s intention that schools, formal childcare and early years settings will remain open at all tier levels and there are some exemptions written into the guidelines to make informal childcare possible.

At the medium alert level, family and friends can continue to provide informal childcare as long as groups from different households do not exceed six people. However, wherever possible, you should keep your distance from people you do not live with (unless you have formed a support bubble with them).

At the high and very high alert levels, families are allowed to form “childcare bubbles” with relatives who help them with childcare.

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. The guidelines state that for any given childcare bubble, this must always be between the same two households. 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.

Liz Bayram, Chief Executive at the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), said:

“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.”