First Minister Mark Drakeford MS announced changes to the lockdown regulations in Wales from Monday (22 June) to enable childcare providers to reopen alongside non-essential retail businesses “to support a return to work for more people.”

This is a week earlier than expected and a week before schools are due to open to more children. Children are being asked to attend just one setting and calls for small, consistent groups.

The Written Statement says:

We will introduce changes to the regulations from Monday 22 June to enable non-essential retail businesses to re-open where they can take all reasonable measures to comply with the physical distancing duty, which will help to protect both employees and customers from coronavirus. I am grateful to all those businesses, which have used the last three weeks to prepare.

To support a return to work for more people, there will be a gradual reopening of childcare facilities, operating under new guidelines developed with the sector. To help reduce the risk of transmission, we are asking that children attend just one setting wherever possible. If a child attends more than one setting, such as school and childcare, they should remain in the same, small consistent group across both.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA Cymru said: “Although this opportunity to accept more children will be welcomed by many nurseries, especially those who have been open only for key worker childcare, it really is very short notice.

“A great deal of planning and work needs to be done to prepare nurseries and their staff teams so that they can welcome children back into an environment that is familiar, but also as safe as it can be. Giving providers just a weekend to get ready is not sufficient time, especially when nurseries were working towards reopening on 29 June.

“We know that many parents will have concerns for their children’s safety and the wider community. We would like to reassure them that nurseries are doing everything they can to put in place measures to keep everyone safe and we hope this gives them the confidence to bring their children back to their learning environment.

“Unfortunately childcare providers are really going to struggle, having to pay increased costs to minimise the spread of infection - such as more staff hours to carry out extra cleaning and installing partitions and additional handwashing basins – while simultaneously expecting reduced income due to lower demand. 

“We have heard that some of our members are receiving half the amount of usual Childcare Offer funding due to the decision to close the Offer to new entrants this term. The Welsh Government must provide continuing financial support to nurseries and other providers in order for them to stay afloat and weather this storm.”