A DUNFERMLINE woman has said she fears for her baby and toddler class business despite a Scottish Government u-turn this week over how many little ones can attend.

Julie Cruickshank has been running Jo Jingles Fife for nine years and is hopeful her COVID-secure lessons will return later this month.

However, new restrictions now mean that she can only have five children attend her toddler classes while her baby groups can now accommodate 10 households after a change of heart from the Government this week.

"Before the lockdown, we had about 25 classes a week running and probably about a third of them were baby classes," explained Julie, of Duloch.

"The announcement about the change for under-12 months means we can now run them with a max of 10. Before the lockdown, we would have had up to 18 in a class.

"Ten is definitely better than five but the classes for the over-12 months remains as five adults which is a frustration as it is really quite limiting.

"People are flocking to the gyms, bars and restaurants but these guidelines mean only five households are being allowed to attend classes like ours. Running classes on these restricted numbers is not at all financially viable."

Julie said the expenditure for the business is not decreasing.

"The impact on my business is huge," she said. "We do it because we love the job and we love the kids but we still have bills to pay.

"My turnover from what I have been doing online so far is about five per cent of what it was a year ago. I am having to hire bigger spaces and going to have to hire for longer because there is more cleaning to do between classes.

"I have no idea where the scientific evidence is to show that once you are over 12 months, everything changes.

"Children who attend our classes are developing and learning at an incredible rate. The impact of not being able to attend classes like ours will likely have huge long-term effects on their development. But our classes are not just for the little ones, they are a huge support to the parents who attend and I worry about the impact this will have on their mental health."

Julie is encouraging West Fifers to get in touch with their local politicians to express their concern about the rules.

"I’m asking local people to please contact the First Minister, local MPs and MSPs to express their feelings about the restrictions on children’s classes – it would be much appreciated," she added.

In the First Minister's briefing on Monday, Nicola Sturgeon said the number of adults that could attend parent and baby groups could increase to 10 – and conceded this would not help all parents.

"We know that parent and baby groups are vital in supporting health and wellbeing – particularly at the moment," she said. "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 supporting perinatal mental health – while also making sure we are taking appropriate steps to try to stop the virus spreading."

Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing said: “I understand that this change will not go far enough for some but it is about finding a balance between the important role such groups play in the post-natal health and wellbeing of mothers of young children, and the dangers of virus transmission that are inherent with any gathering of adults.”