A new year, a new lockdown.
Certainly not the ‘Happy New Year’ email we wanted to send you.
News yesterday that a new national lockdown was being implemented across England and Scotland (with Wales and Northern Ireland actively reviewing their current restrictions too), means we start the year with less bang, and more frustration.
Of course, this wasn’t entirely unexpected despite politicians saying otherwise, many had predicted a third lockdown weeks ago. Nonetheless, alongside the growing cases and deaths each day, the mood around the sector feels somewhat sombre.
We feel for providers up and down the country. It’s been a bumpy ride and you’d be forgiven for simply wanting to get off, but as we wrote recently you didn’t come this far to stop now.
Our understanding is the legislation is still being created and will be released within 24 hours. In the meantime, we have these guidance links you may find useful:
As and when the legislation is released, if appropriate, we’ll communicate further thoughts and interpretation.
It appears likely that the majority of the children’s activity sector will either need to, or choose to, cease operating while Covid-19 cases continue to rise aggressively and with schools remaining closed over the next few weeks.
We note the reference to ‘support groups’ once again in these guidelines for England.
This term was met with much debate in the previous lockdown by baby and toddler groups/business owners, with the Government seemingly leaving it slightly open to interpretation as to whether an activity provider service was indeed a ‘support group’ or simply was ‘supportive’ by nature.
This was then adapted in legislation passed in December to include ‘parent and child groups’ making it clearer.
It seems (as of writing this) only to include the wording ‘support groups’ again. If this remains ‘as is’ including importantly the legislation document, providers may again be required to use their discretion in interpreting this in terms of whether they can continue operating during lockdown.
We recommend seeking advice from your local environmental health office and trading standards for clarification and confirmation, should you believe and wish to keep operating.
Some final positive thoughts:
- Providers can start planning ahead knowing schools will be closed until at least mid-February (England at least, other nations may differ)
- The vaccine roll out is underway and seems to be making progress
- Customer demand is strong, and while online services may not be possible or ideal for everyone, they remain a viable route to generating revenue and building customer loyalty
- Depending on your own childcare and home-schooling commitments, you may find you have more time to plan for the future and consider the long-term direction of your business
- You’ve done a brilliant job and you didn’t come this far to stop now
- We are incredibly confident and hopeful about the future of the sector as we wrote about here.
- If you’d like to seek advice from other activity providers, you may find this Facebook Group useful.
Wishing you all positive vibes as we enter a challenging few weeks.