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Local lockdown childcare: Can grandparents look after grandchildren?

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The new measures implemented in some regions were prompted by a fast rise in coronavirus infections and were confirmed by the Department of Health following consultation with local authorities in the affected areas. Lancashire, Merseyside, Warrington and Halton are now being classed as “areas of intervention”, and fresh restrictions will come into force in Wolverhampton, Oadby and Winston, and parts of Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale.

Can grandparents look after grandchildren?

Regulations and guidance differ between the areas, meaning grandparents will be able to look after their children in selected circumstances.

In Merseyside, Warrington, Halton and Lancashire – excluding Blackpool and Greater Manchester – regulations will come into effect on Tuesday.

However, all the affected areas have one regulation in common – residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubbles in private homes and gardens.

So, whether or not grandparents can look after grandchildren depends entirely on whether or not they are in your household or support bubble.

The following restrictions will come into force next week:

  • Residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubbles
  • Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only
  • Late-night operating hours will be restricted with leisure and entertainment venues including restaurants, pubs, and cinemas, required to close between 10pm and 5am
  • Residents are encouraged to only use public transport for essential purposes
  • Residents are being urged to avoid attending amateur and semi-amateur professional sporting events as spectators

These rules will not apply to Bolton or Manchester, where separate rules are already in place.

The new local lockdown rules will have to be adhered to in conjunction with the Rule of Six, which is in force for the whole country.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We are seeing cases of coronavirus rise fast in Lancashire, Merseyside, West Yorkshire, Warrington, Halton and Wolverhampton.

“Local leaders in these areas have asked for stronger restrictions to be put in place to protect local people, and we are actively decisively to support them.

“I know these restrictions will make everyday life harder for many, but I know that residents will work together and respect the rules so we can reduce rates of transmission.”

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Mr Hancock urged people to self-isolate and get tested for coronavirus if they had symptoms, as well as always remembering “hands, face, space”, the new Government slogan.

The Health Secretary added: “By sticking to these steps, we will get through this together.”

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said he hoped the temporary measures would “head off the potential of any further damaging full lockdown across the region”.

He said: “The evidence we’ve found from local testing is that it’s spreading in three main areas – ion pubs, in people’s homes and in grassroots sports.”

Mr Forbes said council leaders had requested additional funding for policing the measures, as well as more local facilities for testing. 

County Durham’s director of public health Amanda Healy urged people to follow the guidance strictly.

Ms Healy said: “If we do want to be able to continue to go to work to schools, to keep in contact with relatives but stop an increase in the cases we have seen, we are really urging people to adhere to the guidance coming out today.”

Spikes in coronavirus infections have seen Leeds, Middlesbrough, Corby, Kettering and South Tyneside all added to the Government’s watchlist.

Local lockdowns in this area seem highly likely unless the infection rates are brought under control.

In Leeds, the council confirmed testing showed it had 32.4 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000, and that 3.5 percent of those tested were now coming back positive.

In addition, Norfolk, Rossendale in Lancashire, and Northampton have been designated “areas of enhanced support” by the Department of Health.

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