Can grandparents babysit? Government guidance on looking after grandchildren - and social bubbles explained

With the introduction of the three tier lockdown system, grandparents are confused about whether they are allowed to babysit their grandchildren

This is what you need to know about grandparents being allowed to babysit their grandchildren (Photo: Shutterstock)

As lockdown rules across England change, grandparents are hopeful they’ll still be able to babysit their grandchildren.

But what are the rules around grandparents looking after children? Here’s what you should know.

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Can grandparents babysit their grandchildren?

In short, the answer depends on what tier level alert your area is in. The tiers are split into three categories – medium, high and very high.

Each category has different Covid-19 rules and regulations pertaining to what is and is not allowed.

In the medium category, people are not allowed to meet in groups larger that six, indoors or outdoors.

In the high category, people must not meet with anyone outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place. They must also not meet in a group of more than six outside, including in a garden or other space.

In the very high category, people must not meet with anyone outside their household or support bubble in any indoor or outdoor setting.

In regards to the very high category, the government has released a baseline of regulations, however consultations with local authorities will determine any additional measures.

However, no matter what tier your area is in, those in support bubbles are not affected, as two households in a support bubble are effectively seen as one household in the eyes of the government.

What are support bubbles?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on 10 June a major change to lockdown rules designed to “support the loneliest and most isolated”.

Support bubbles will allow adults who live alone or with dependent children to mingle with another, similar household from Saturday 13 June, without the need to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

The two households will effectively been treated as a single household for the purpose of lockdown rules. Once a household has joined a social bubble with another household, they cannot choose a different household later on down the line to rejoin with.

This means that elderly people living along can form a bubble with the household of an adult son or daughter, which would allow them to take care of their grandchildren.

Single parents would be able to pair up with their own parents, which would allow them to share childcare duties.

How can grandparents keep in touch with grandchildren?

Thanks to the internet, there are lots of different options for grandparents to get valuable face to face time with their grandchildren, even if it’s through a screen.

Video calls through the likes of Zoom, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and others are an easy way to facilitate video calls from one person to another.

After reporting that “37% of [their] surveyed users said they are concerned about their mental health and are taking steps to keep positive and stay connected to others”, Gransnet recommends the following ways to help the elderly keep in touch with family:

- Family WhatsApp groups to allow for daily check ins

- Video calling through FaceTime, Skype or other video calling services

- Sharing photos on Facebook

- Virtual pub quiz evenings which can be made kid friendly in order to get grandchildren involved

- Communal family meals on video - start by setting a time for your Sunday lunch and everyone can log in and eat together

Is there different guidance in different areas?

In different areas across England, there could be different rules and regulations depending on what tier that area is in – so you’ll need to be aware what the rules are in your local area to ensure you’re adhering to the rules.

The government has introduced a postcode checker which tells you what the rules are in your area.

All you have to do is type in your postcode, the website will guide you on rules.