To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance the Government has issued on whether parent and pre-school children classes and groups are categorised as a support group for the purposes of Exception 5 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 4) Regulations 2020.
23 November 2020
Parent and pre-school children classes and groups need to meet necessary exceptions to continue during the November 2020 national restrictions.
Where these are held in Ofsted registered settings, they should follow government guidance on the COVID-19 outbreak for early years and childcare providers. This is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures.
Support groups for new parents in community settings, such as places of worship, community centres or halls, or libraries, and that are essential to deliver in person, can continue. These can be conducted with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy, or any other form of support. These groups must be organised by a business, a charitable, benevolent, or philanthropic institution, or a public body, and must follow COVID-19 secure guidance. Restricted businesses which are required to close, such as coffee shops, cannot hold support groups. When national restrictions apply, in determining the limit of 15 participants, no account is to be taken of any child who is below the age of 5.
Informal groups, such as those organised by a parent, need to comply with the gathering and household mixing rules. In practice, during the period of national restrictions, this means these groups should only meet virtually.
Supervised activity for children can continue to take place where it is reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, search for work or to undertake training or education, for example in indoor gyms, fitness studios, indoor sports facilities and other indoor leisure centres, community centres or halls.
For further information, Cabinet Office guidance on the new national restrictions can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november#childcare-and-childrens-activities.
The department's guidance for education and childcare setting during national restrictions can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/education-and-childcare-settings-new-national-restrictions-from-5-november-2020#early-years-and-childcare.