BABIES and toddlers will be exempt from a two-person limit on public gatherings under England's new lockdown rules, the government has said.
The move follows concerns raised about the isolation that parents with young children could face during the four-week "circuit breaker" announced on Sunday.
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The new rules ban people in England from meeting socially indoors with friends or family unless they are part of the same household or support bubble.
People will be allowed to exercise or visit outdoor public spaces with other members of their household or support bubble, or with one person from another household.
Outdoor public spaces include parks, beaches, and allotments, but not private gardens.
The measures had prompted concerns that new parents in particular would be isolated from their friends, family, and other parts of their normal support network.
Writing on twitter this morning, Conservative MP Alicia Kearns said: "As we prepare to go into a second lockdown, it’s important that we support new mums. I remember the loneliness."
The exemption, announced this afternoon, will mean children under school age will not count towards the two-person limit on meetings between members of different households.
It will also apply to anyone of any age who requires round-the-clock care.
Announcing the change on Twitter today, health minister Nadine Dorries said: "Children under school age who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside.
"This will mean that a parent can see a friend or family member with their baby or young children.
"Children and adults who are dependent on round-the-clock care, such as those with severe disabilities, will also be included.
"The guidance will be updated to reflect this."
Responding to the announcement, Joeli Brearley, chief executive of parental rights group Pregnant Then Screwed, said: "Parents of children under school age can breathe a sigh of relief that they can meet another person with their child."
But she added that the second lockdown had brought "a whole host of new gaps of information for parents that we're desperately trying to fill".
"These issues really do need to be considered from the outset," she said.
The new rules followed weeks of speculation that more restrictions would be needed to curb a steady rise in infections across England.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference yesterday, prime minister Boris Johnson said the measures would be necessary to prevent a "medical and moral disaster" for the NHS.
The rules are currently set to remain in place until at least December 2, though could be extended.
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