Parent and baby group restrictions relaxed after backlash

Nicola Sturgeon said the number of adults allowed to attend parent and baby groups would double to ten.

Parent and baby group restrictions relaxed after backlash Getty Images

Restrictions on parent and baby groups have been relaxed by the Scottish Government following public backlash.

Speaking at the coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh on Monday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the number of adults allowed to attend such a group, with children under the age of 12 months, would double to ten.

Opposition parties and people who run such groups have spoken out in the past week about the measures, which were put in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

As part of the updated guidance, physical distancing should be adhered to while face coverings are to be worn at all times by anyone in the room over five years old.

If babies in the group are over 12 months old, the maximum number of adults remains at five.

The First Minister said: “We know that parent and baby groups are vital in supporting health and wellbeing, particularly at the moment, but we also know that any setting where groups of adults come together poses a risk of transmission.

“So what we hope is that this change, while I’m sure not satisfying everybody, will strike a better balance between supporting the wellbeing of new parents and in particular support perinatal mental health while also making sure we are taking appropriate steps to stop the virus spreading.”

Opposition parties have welcomed the shift in guidance, with Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon describing the move as a “positive development” adding that work should now be done on supporting classes for older children.

Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton also urged the First Minister to go further, saying: “The pandemic is likely to be a feature of our everyday lives for many more months. We need to find safe workable ways of enabling essential health services to operate.

“These groups are important for children’s development and provide new parents with a valuable source of support.”

Donald Cameron, the Scottish Tory health spokesman, said: “Baby groups are hugely important for the health and wellbeing of both parents and children, so this is a very welcome U-turn after another week of mixed messages.

“But as usual with the SNP, questions remain unanswered, and in particular we need to hear more about the rationale behind the one-year-old limit.”