13 May 2020
Over the last week, the Government has made several announcements about loosening lockdown restrictions. The Government have released:
- The COVID-19 recovery strategy, which includes a ‘phased loosening’ of the existing lockdown guidelines between 13th May and 1st June. These measures are conditional on the trends seen in the COVID-19 data.
- Practical guidance on working safely in different sectors.
- Department for Education guidance on a gradual reopening of formal education from 1st June.
Social distancing is particularly important in London, where there has been a relatively high infection rate. We encourage our members to do all you can to encourage your young people to stay safe and follow social distancing guidelines. The guidance remains to work from home and avoid public transport wherever possible and to limit all physical interaction.
Are youth organisations able to reopen yet?
No. Our understanding is that the current guidance remains that youth organisations are required by law to stay shut to young people.
Cabinet Office guidance, which was issued on the 11th of May and after the Prime Minister’s speech on relaxing lockdown restrictions, explicitly states that youth organisations should remain closed to the public.
As there have been since the beginning of lockdown, there are exceptions for youth organisations delivering essential voluntary activities or urgent public services, such as food banks and homeless services.
When will youth organisations be able to reopen to the public?
We don’t know yet. A possible indicator of when this could happen is the timeline for reopening schools. The current guidance is that Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils will return to school on the week commencing 1st June. This decision is being contested by the teaching unions and it is possible it will change due to political decisions or because of changing COVID-19 infection data.
Is there any guidance specifically for the youth sector?
No. A concern we’ve heard from our members in our survey on the impact of COVID-19, and we’ve communicated to the Government, is that the sector guidance for the youth sector has not been clear. We will update members as and when we find out more.