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The 5 days of Christmas and childcare arrangements whilst following the latest Government Guidelines

09 December 2020 Written by na Category: COVID-19

robert bellhouseOn the 2nd December the Government announced a series of measures across England in line with a new “three-tier” lockdown system, in an attempt to control the coronavirus infection rates.

So, what does this mean for whether you can see your grandparents at Christmas and childcare help from grandparents for their grandchildren?

The government do still caution against mixing with older family members. As Boris Johnson said in his press conference: 'Tis the season to be jolly, but it's also the season to be jolly careful, especially with elderly relatives.'

The Rule of Six will apply again and childcare bubbles continue.

For Christmas day, three households will be able to mix inside between December 23 and 27.

What is a childcare bubble?

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.

These rules have been brought in place to help parents struggling to find adequate childcare in Tier Two and Tier Three  where mixing between households is not allowed indoors.

The government website states: 'For any given childcare bubble, this must always be between the same 2 households.'

What are the self-isolation rules with your childcare bubble?

If anyone in your childcare bubble displays symptoms of, or tests positive for Coronavirus, then everyone in that household has to stay at home and isolate for 14 days. If one person in your childcare bubble has come into close contact with someone else outside of your bubble who has symptoms of or tested positive for Coronavirus, then that person will have to stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days, but the rest of the bubble will not unless that person displays symptoms of Coronavirus and/or tests positive.

Can you still have a childcare bubble at Christmas?

Yes - but only if it is absolutely necessary. Government advice states that 'between 23 and 27 December, you can continue to use a childcare bubble, but only if reasonably necessary for the purposes of childcare and where there are no reasonable alternatives.'

Can you socialise with your childcare bubble?

Official Government advice states that you 'must not meet socially with your childcare bubble, and avoid seeing members of your childcare and support bubbles at the same time. Childcare bubbles must be used exclusively for the purposes of childcare.'

Can you socialise with your childcare bubble at Christmas?

Yes - but only if you include them in your Christmas bubble (so you cannot have an extra household in your Christmas bubble because they are already in your childcare bubble, they need to be included as one of the three households.  'If you want to meet socially with the other household in your childcare bubble, you should include them in your Christmas bubble. You and the other household in your childcare bubble would count as two households towards the three household limit for Christmas bubbles.'

Can grandparents currently help with childcare during lockdown?

As before, the government has allowed for families to form a childcare bubble.

The new government rules say: 'Parents are able to form a childcare bubble with another household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under.'  Childcare bubbles can be with anyone - it does not just have to be with a family member.

However if you are clinically vulnerable, or over the age of 60, you should be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise your contacts with your others.

So grandparents above 60 should perhaps be careful mixing with children who are attending school or childcare settings in large bubbles.

Can both grandparents be in a childcare bubble?

If those grandparents live in the same house, then yes, it's a bubble between households.

Can grandparents look after more than one set of grandchildren?

No, unfortunately not. If grandchildren live in different households, they must only be a childcare bubble for one household. The government website says: 'For any given childcare bubble, this must always be between the same 2 households.'

If parents share custody, can they have one childcare bubble at each household? What about at Christmas?

Yes, we understand that each of the two households can have a different person or grandparent helping to be in their childcare bubble. At Christmas that child - provided they are under 18 - can be part of two Christmas bubbles, but no-one else can be.

Will grandparents be able to see their family at Christmas under Christmas Covid-19 rules?

Up to three households can meet indoors during a five-day Christmas period of 23-27 December, leaders of the four UK nations have agreed.

Support bubbles if you have a baby under one.

Under the new restrictions, there has been a change to who can form support bubbles. If a family has a baby under 1, or a child under five who needs continuous care, they are able to form a support bubble with another household, regardless of the number of people in each household.

Can grandparents provide childcare in Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas?

A new exemption has been given for looking after children under the age of 14 or vulnerable adults where that is necessary for caring purposes.

This covers both formal and informal arrangements. It does not allow for play-dates or parties, but it does mean that a consistent childcare relationship that is vital for somebody to get to work is allowed.

In areas where mixing between households is still allowed, you still need to be bear in mind advice about the spread of the disease to older relatives where you can.  You may also be unable to see grandparents if it would break the national 'rule of six' guidance.

Can grandparents look after grandchildren in Tier 1?

In Tier 1, there are no restrictions on mixing households, apart from sticking to the rule of six. 

As the government guidance states: 'Family and friends can continue to provide informal childcare as long as groups from different households do not exceed 6 people. You should, wherever possible, keep your distance from people you do not live with (unless you have formed a support bubble with them).'

Can grandparents provide childcare and babysit in Tier 2?

In Tier 2, you cannot mix households in any indoor setting, only outside.

Instead, you can rely on childcare bubbles, only with one other household. People in your support bubble can also provide childcare.

Can grandparents look after grandchildren and help with childcare in Tier 3?

Grandparents can look after children within a childcare bubble - or support bubble - as above in Tier 2.

Can grandparents who live in a different tier to their grandchildren, still babysit as part of a childcare bubble?

As long as you stick to the rules around childcare bubbles, it does not matter which tier the grandparent or grandchild is in. For instance, a tier 3 could have access to a bubble in tier 2.

Are single parents being given any extra help with childcare? Can they have more people in their childcare bubbles?

Only one childcare bubble is still allowed, even if you are a single parents. So that means just one person allowed to come and help provide informal childcare - this means it might only be one grandparent who can have access to a child when babysitting or helping out.

However, if a single parent lives by themselves, they could also form a support bubble with another household.

If you would like more advice regarding Child Arrangements, get in touch with our specialist family law solicitor Robert Bellhouse on 01653 692247 or email

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