Young Children Will Be Exempt From Two Person Lockdown Rule To Help Mothers, Government Announces

Ned Simons
·Politics news editor, HuffPost UK
·3-min read

The government has agreed to change its new lockdown rules for England so parents of young children can meet up with each other.

Under the restrictions that come into force on Thursday, people are only allowed to meet with one person outside from another household.

The initial plans counted a parent and their baby as two people. This would have meant a mother or father would have been unable to meet up with another person while looking after their child.

MPs had called on the government to loosen the rule before it comes into force.

On Sunday afternoon, health minister Nadine Dorries announced children under school age who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside.

Conservative MP Alicia Kearns had called for the rule to be amended on Sunday. “As we prepare to go into a second lockdown, it’s important that we support new mums. I remember the loneliness,” she said on Twitter.

“I’ve asked for any parent with a baby to be able to meet, and also that it’s children under school age.

The MP for Rutland and Melton said it was important that “two new mums can meet together in lockdown”.

She added: “I recognise the goal of lockdown is to reduce contact between different households.”

Labour MP Stella Creasy added: “Hard to see how a baby is distinct from parent in transmission stakes at such a young age and given growing crisis of post natal maternal health vital mums not stuck at home this next month.”

Pregnant Then Screwed said it understood the importance of reducing the spread of coronavirus, but also called for a change.

“But babies under 18 months should not be counted in these figures. New mums are having a hard enough time as it is,” the charity said.

’They need support and company from other mothers to improve their mental health.

“If they are breastfeeding they have no other choice but to go everywhere with their baby. Have new mothers been forgotten here?”

In Scotland, children under 12 do not count towards its household limit rules.

From Thursday, pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential retail will close from Thursday for four weeks across England, with furlough payments at 80% extended for the duration of the new measures.

Yet unlike in the lockdown during the first wave of the pandemic, schools, colleges and nurseries will remain open.

Boris Johnson said the restrictions would end on December 2, when the government would reintroduce local restrictions based on the latest data and trends.

But Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, said on Sunday the national lockdown could be extended beyond a month.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.