Government relaxes social distancing rules from 4 July
By Rachel Lawler
The Prime Minister has announced a relaxation of social distancing rules, due to come into force in England on 4 July, in the next phase of the country's fight against coronavirus.
The new rules encourage members of the public to remain two metres apart "where possible" or "one metre plus" elsewhere.
The rules will also see families able to meet indoors with members from one other household at a time, although they are expected to retain social distancing.
Members of the public will also be encouraged to wear face coverings where it is not possible to keep two metres apart from others.
Boris Johnson also said that wraparound care for school-aged children and formal childcare will be able to reopen over the summer.
Community centres, playgrounds, outdoor gyms, adventure parks, libraries, leisure centres and social clubs would be able to reopen on 4 July.
However, indoor play areas, including soft play centres, and swimming pools will need to remain closed.
Early years sector
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “While the easing of the two-metre rule will no doubt provide a significant boost to some industries, today’s announcement is likely to have little impact on the challenges facing the early years sector.
“Although childcare providers are required to keep children in small, consistent groups, and to minimise the interaction between these groups, they were never expected to keep children two metres apart.
“As such, while current government guidance on group sizes remains in place, nurseries, pre-schools and childminders will continue to face restrictions on the number of places they are able to offer. Add to this the fact that many providers are facing a significant reduction in the demand for places from parents, and it’s clear that the childcare sector is likely to struggle financially over the coming months.
“There is no doubt that ensuring the safety of children and staff has to be a priority – but it is also vital that government recognises the pressure that providers who are following government guidance are facing at the moment, and provides the necessary financial support to ensure that they can stay in business.
“That’s why we are calling on the government to commit to urgent transitional funding support for the childcare sector. Without it, we risk sleepwalking into an entirely-preventable crisis where one day, the quality and accessible childcare that is currently taken for granted no longer exists.”