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Petitions Committee welcomes victory for baby and toddler groups

10 December 2020

Petitions Committee Chair Catherine McKinnell MP has welcomed the news that baby and toddler groups will be exempt from gathering limits in all tiers. 

On Wednesday 8 December, the Government announced that it had updated its guidance to exempt baby and toddler groups from gatherings limits in all tiers of coronavirus restrictions. 

  • Read the updated guidance 

This update to the guidance follows a campaign by petitioners and a Petitions Committee inquiry into the impact of covid-19 on maternity and parental leave. A petitions debate on this issue was held on 5 October. 

Chair’s comments 

“The recent addition of parent, baby and toddler groups to the list of exemptions from gathering limits in all tiers is a clear, if long overdue, acknowledgement by the Government that they are vital to young families and our society as a whole. 

“Our inquiry heard compelling evidence from new parents and experts on how crucial these groups can be for the mental health of new parents, providing support and a much-needed lifeline at such an important time in their lives. 

“This addition to the guidance on exemptions is testament to our petitioners and campaigners who worked tirelessly to demand clarity for the sector, and of the power of the petitions system.  

“Because of these petitioners’ drive for change, many who otherwise might not have had the support they need will be able to access these groups during what has been, and continues to be, an extremely challenging time for new parents.” 


The Committee’s inquiry was prompted by a petition, with more than 238,000 signatures, which called for maternity leave to be extended in light of covid-19. The inquiry heard that parent, baby and toddler groups were vital for the mental health of new parents. In its landmark report, the Committee urged the Government to meet with the sector to ensure necessary support was received. The Committee also received a petition with more than 15,000 signatures calling for better clarity and support for the sector. The Committee wrote to the Government in September when it emerged the lack of clarity within the guidance was forcing many groups to close.   

Further information 

Image: Anna Earl via Unsplash