Half Term Childcare: What You Can And Cannot Do Under Tier 2

A child is looked after by their grandparent, something which has been brought into question by the new Tier 2 rules.

“Can I still get childcare?” That was the question on many parents’ lips as the Government introduced tougher rules on the mixing of households -- especially with Half Term approaching. 

The Tier 2 (“High Risk”) regulations now apply to the whole of London, most of Essex, and many areas of the North and Midlands. At their core is a ban on the indoor mixing of households. But does that include childcare?

The following information applies to England only, and is accurate at the time of writing (16 October 2020).

Formal Childcare Arrangements

The good news is that paid childcare is unaffected by the tougher regulations.
- You CAN still leave your children with a registered childminder or nanny, even though this would involve two households coming into contact.
- You CAN still use after-school or breakfast clubs, if available.

Informal Childcare And “Childcare Bubbles”

Tier 2 rules also allow for informal (unpaid) childcare arrangements. You CAN still ask a friend or relative to look after the kids. But be careful. There are rules to follow.
You must form a “childcare bubble”. This means you can choose one other household -- and only one -- where your kids can be looked after by someone else. So, for example, you may leave your children with one set of grandparents for childcare. But you can’t then take them to the other set of grandparents (either for childcare or an indoor visit). Once you have formed a childcare bubble with another household, you can’t change it.
Plus, you’re not supposed to use childcare bubbles for socialising. In the Government’s words: “Childcare bubbles are to be used to provide childcare only, and not for the purposes of different households mixing where they are otherwise not allowed to do so”.
The rules on informal childcare apply only to children aged 13 and under. You CAN’T leave older teenagers with friends or relatives, unless they are part of your support bubble (see below).

What About Support Bubbles?

Since early summer, the law has allowed certain households to form ‘support bubbles’. If somebody lives on their own (for example, a lone grandparent), they may form a support bubble with another household, and freely mix with that household at any time. Single parents looking after children can also form support bubbles with another household. These set-ups are unaffected by the Tier 2 rules. A grandparent, for example, in a support bubble with a family in another household can meet them indoors or outdoors at any time, and also provide childcare or look after teenagers.

Outdoor Childcare?

The rules of Tier 2 allow for two households to meet outdoors (but not indoors), so long as no more than six people gather. That means you could leave the kids with someone not in your support or childcare bubble, so long as they remained outdoors the whole time. That might work for very short periods (e.g. if you have to pop out on a quick errand or for an appointment), but would not be practical long-term.  

What About Holiday Clubs And Camps?

The Tier 2 rules appear to allow for activity clubs over the school holidays. There’s an exception to the rules on household mixing “for supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care (before and after school childcare), youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups”. That would seem to allow for organised activity clubs and camps, so long as appropriate safety measures were in place. However, bear in mind that your children will be mixing with others from outside their school bubble, increasing the risk of infection. 

What If We Move Into Tier 3?

If cases continue to rise, more areas of the country may move into Tier 3 (or “very high risk”) measures. Among other things, this stops you mixing with another household even in an outdoor setting. As things stand, the advice given above on formal and informal childcare is exactly the same under Tier 3 (other than the ‘Outdoor childcare’ section). Childminders, nannies and youth activity groups are all still permitted under Tier 3.



At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.

Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.

Sponsorship & Advertising Policy

Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.

We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.

Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.

We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.

Read our Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Get The Kidadl Newsletter

1,000 of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

Thank you! Your newsletter will be with you soon.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
No items found.