Childminders and fully outdoor nurseries are now able to welcome children back as lockdown restrictions ease.
Scotland’s childminders closed their settings at the start of the pandemic unless they were caring for the children of key workers and vulnerable children but were able to reopen from June 3.
Under guidance issued by the Scottish Government this week, childminders must limit the number of households they provide childcare for to a maximum of four, in addition to children of their own household, at any one time.
They are also advised to prioritise childcare for key workers and vulnerable children.
Physical distancing will not be expected between children although it is advised wherever adults may interact, and the guidance states that enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures must be put in place.
Fully outdoor nurseries can reopen too but have also been advised that providing critical childcare for key workers and vulnerable children must be the first priority when allocating spaces.
Kenny Forsyth, chief executive of Stramash Scotland, which runs a number of outdoor nurseries, welcomed the news they can reopen but said nurseries need more financial guidance as new arrangements could cause difficulties.
In an interview on BBC Radio Scotland, he was asked whether the nurseries would need double the amount of staff to look after smaller groups of children.
He replied: “Not necessarily, that is one way to go about it, the other way to go about it is to do what the rest of the education system will do, have fewer children present at any one time and therefore one can make the equation work with existing staff and fewer children so there’s two ways to go about it.”
Asked whether his organisation can afford to do that, he said: “No. That is the issue. We’re badly in need of financial guidance.
“What arrived earlier in the week was essentially care guidance, it started with the health position as absolutely it should, what we really is need is financial guidance to sit alongside.”
Guidance for outdoor nurseries says that there should be increased hand and respiratory hygiene.
It says they should establish cohorts of up to eight children who will remain together throughout each day, with the same staff member or members where practicable.
The guidance says that cohorts of children should remain physically distanced from other cohorts of children within the setting at a distance of two metres.
Childminders and fully outdoor nurseries are included in the first phase of the Scottish Government’s four-phase plan for gradually lifting lockdown.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Our overriding priority is to keep children and staff safe when nurseries and other childcare facilities reopen.
“Scientific evidence and public health advice means modifications to practice will have to be implemented, as detailed in the guidance published on Monday for fully outdoor childcare providers.
“We understand this will present challenges in some cases and we worked constructively with a number of fully outdoor providers during the drafting of the guidance.”
He added: “The C-19 Education Recovery Group (ERG) continues to be in discussions with key stakeholders to ensure that we consider all practical implications.
“We are working to support the sector with interpretation and practical implementation of this guidance and we are committed to a model which is financially sustainable.
“The guidance will be kept under review and updated as scientific and public health guidance evolves.”