Grandparents will have to wait until at the least the next phase of the virus lockdown measures before they can go back to looking after their grandchildren, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told local List MSP Maurice Corry in the Scottish Parliament today.
Mr Corry asked her: “The new guidelines that were issued for childminders who are returning to work state that they can take children from four separate households. The Scottish Government has yet to issue guidelines on grandparents who are responsible for the childcare of their grandchildren.
“Many grandparents are below the age of those in the shielded category and without underlying health conditions. Will the First Minister outline today when they can return to their duties, particularly given the fact that, in most cases, they will be taking children from only one other household, which creates a lower risk than there is for childminders?”
But Nicola Sturgeon refused his request point blank. She said: “No, I will not outline that today. It would not be responsible of me to do so, because we have to consider all these things carefully. Notwithstanding my earlier comments about the shielded group, I appreciate that, although to some extent we have to consider these things in a general way, there will be different circumstances within that.
“I know that not all grandparents are over 70—in fact, I know some grandparents very close to me who are not over 70, and they would want me to point that out. However, it is the case that, generally, older people are more at risk from the virus than the general population, and we cannot simply ignore that.
“With grandparents perhaps more so than with childminders—although I know that this will also be a factor for them—there is the issue of keeping physical distancing. Not having a grandchild hug their grandparent is very difficult.
“We are thinking about those things very carefully and cautiously. I know how difficult all the arrangements are for people, but they are all about trying to keep people as safe as possible.
“I will not depart from that careful and cautious way of making decisions. As we go through the route map, we will try to accelerate things when we can, but at all stages we will keep in mind the driving imperative of suppressing the virus overall and protecting those who are most at risk.”