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Will Covid-19 tier restrictions effect contact with your children?

Published: 14th October 2020 - Category: Bastow Blogs - Author: Lynne Bastow

Lockdown restrictions eased between 23 June 2020 and 01 August 2020 and the UK started towards a reconstructed normality after almost three months of a complete lockdown. There is confusion as to what people can and cannot do with regards to social distancing and meeting others. The rules which have come into force today are as follows.

Three-tier lockdown:

Boris Johnson has released a three-tier lockdown system in which every area of England will be classified as either medium, high or very high alert.

    Tier One; Medium alert level

Those areas with low rates of infections will be placed in Tier One where basic restrictions will be implemented, such as pubs, bars and restaurants will have to close at 10pm and you will only be able to meet up as a maximum of six people at a time, both inside and outside. This is similar to when the lockdown restrictions changed on 01 August 2020, when the Government advised that people could only socialise indoors with members of up to two households and that people were only able to socialise outside in a group of up to six people from different households.

    Tier Two; High alert level

Those in Tier Two will have extra levels of restrictions applied such as no mixing between different households indoors. They will only be able to meet as a group of up to six people outside. It is important to note that children are included within this count of six.

    Tier Three; Very high alert level

Tier Three refers to those areas where the infection rate of transmission is at its most rapid. Pubs and bars will be closed in these areas, households cannot mix indoors or outdoors and gyms, leisure centres, betting shops and casinos will all close. Shops, places of worship, schools and universities however will remain open.

In all tier areas you must continue to wear a face covering in areas where this is mandated, such as enclosed spaces and public transport. Also continue to follow social distancing rules, keep regularly washing your hands, work from home where you can effectively do so and plan ahead to avoid busy travelling times, and walk or cycle if you can.

These measures will be in place from 00:01am on Wednesday 14 October 2020.

What this means for children with separated parents:

Over the past eight months, children whose parents do not live in the same household have been the subject debate as to their movements between their parent’s households. Initially, during the early weeks of lockdown, it was uncertain whether parents were able to break a Court Order in order to protect their children from the virus and whether contact could be withheld if the other parent was not following the Government guidelines.

It was later announced that children were able to move between their parents’ homes, provided that parent was not sharing accommodation with another separated parent or those who were mingling with other households.

This leads to the question of whether children are able to move between the tier locations, for example if a child had a father in Liverpool which is listed as in the Tier Three category and a mother in Southampton, listed as in the Tier One category, are they able to freely move between their parents homes?

    Tier One; Medium alert level

There is no mention of travel guidelines within this area tier, therefore it is assumed that there are no official travel restrictions between Tier One areas and other Tier one areas. However, travel from Tier One to Tier Two or Tier Three areas has been advised against if it is not essential.

    Tier Two; High alert level

Although travel in and out of the area is still technically allowed, people are advised to limit their journeys. The Government have advised that “People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. If they need to travel, they should walk or cycle where possible.”

They further advise that people living in Tier Two are allowed to travel outside their local area as long as they don’t share accommodation with people outside their household. Since the previous Government guidelines allowed for children with separated parents to travel between the parent’s homes, potentially this should be applied in the tiering system, but the advice is silent in this regard.

    Tier Three; Very high alert level

The Government have advised that travel in and out of these areas should only be limited to essential journeys, such as going to work, going to school or caring responsibilities.

According to the official guidance, those living in Tier Three should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK and vice versa. The specifics are yet to be confirmed and are to be finalised on today, however, the Government are urging people to avoid travelling in and out of the Tier Two and Tier Three areas for the time being unless it is necessary.

The President of the Family division is yet to release a statement concerning the recent development of the tier system.

Support bubbles:

With regards to social bubbles, the Government advises that “it is better to limit all your social interactions at this time to help stop the spread of Coronavirus.” However, they understand that this is difficult. Support bubbles allow those living alone to ‘bubble’ with another household of any size. For example, if your grandmother lives on her own and you are a family of four, you can bubble with her to ensure she is supported during the Covid-19 outbreak. It is important that once you have formed a support bubble you do not change who is in your bubble.

Boris Johnson has stated that “I want to stress that support bubbles must be exclusive, meaning you can’t switch the household you are in a bubble with or connect with multiple households.”

Support bubbles are allowed to continue within all three tiers, despite social mixing between households being prohibited both indoors and outdoors in Tier Three.

Lynne Bastow - Divorce Solicitor

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