What do the Tier 4 restrictions mean for contact with my child?

At the time of writing most of Sussex remains in tier 2, however, some parts such as Hastings and some of our near neighbours in Portsmouth, Havant, Surrey, Kent and London as well as other places across the South East are now in tier 4.

The tier 4 restrictions are similar to the November national lockdown, people are being told to stay at home unless they have a “reasonable excuse” such as going to work or to school. They should not leave tier 4 or travel abroad except in limited circumstances (again including work and education). Those living outside of tier 4 should not travel into tier 4. If you live in tier 4 you are not allowed to meet up with anyone outside of your household indoors and you are only allowed to meet one person from another household in an open public space.

Parents may be concerned as to what impact this might have on their child(ren) and their contact with another parent who may live in another tier or even if both parents live within tier 4.

The government has included in the new Health Protection regulations which came into force at 7 am on 20th December 2020 a number of exceptions which assist parents in these circumstances.

In Schedule 3A, Part 1, which deals with the Restrictions on Movement, exception 9 relates to children and provides that a person may leave or be outside of their home for the purposes of arrangements for access to and contact with parents and a child where the child does not live in the same household as one or both of their parents. There are also exceptions for contact with siblings where they do not live in the same household and one of the children in a “looked after” child and for meetings with prospective adopters.

In Part 2, which relates to Restrictions on Gatherings, similar exemptions are found at exception 13, providing that the gathering is “reasonably necessary” for the purposes of access to or contact with a parent.

It is therefore clear that the government believes that a child’s ability to move between their parents who live in different households is sufficiently important to warrant an exemption from these restrictions. Clearly, parents will need to consider the risks in their own situations, for example, if the child or one of the parents or someone else in one of the households is particularly vulnerable, and parents may wish to agree alternative arrangements between them, but these restrictions should not be used as an excuse to prohibit contact with a child, as that is clearly not the intention of them.

What do the Tier 4 restrictions mean for contact with my child?

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