Certain key workers to be exempt from self-isolation amid Omicron wave

Certain key workers to be exempt from self-isolation amid Omicron wave

Government is working on a plan to exempt key workers in public services and utilities from self-isolation requirements in some circumstances amid fears over the impact of the Omicron wave on essential services.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has asked officials to draw up “immediate contingency planning for the coming period, including risks associated with Covid-19- related absenteeism”, his spokesman told The Irish Times.

“Each sector will assess and plan to mitigate risks of transmission and absenteeism affecting critical services or infrastructure. The identification of critical workers/work areas will continue to inform close contact rules and any derogations which might apply,” the spokesman said.

A total of 6,307 Covid-19 cases were confirmed on Wednesday evening and public health officials believe cases of the Omicron variant will continue to grow.



Government sources told The Irish Times that they expect upwards of 10,000 Covid cases per day in the coming weeks.

If close contacts are forced to isolate it could put pressure on essential services.

There are already derogations in the health service for key staff, however, sources said the Coalition wants to examine derogations for other key workers like gardaí, fire service personnel, prison officers and those involved in infrastructure and public utilities, such as water services and power supply.

There are “definitely fears there could be large-scale absenteeism”, one Government source told The Irish Times. The source pointed to the situation in London, where there is high Covid-linked absenteeism in healthcare services.


Meanwhile, the Taoiseach has said the Government will approach the vaccine campaign for young children “with sensitivity” over fears of vaccine hesitancy among parents.

Micheál Martin said that “very comprehensive” information and guidance will be published for parents.

It is expected that the vaccine programme for children aged five to 11 will begin fully in January.

Mr Martin said while he understands the “sensibilities involved”, the Government will be “recommending strongly” that parents facilitate their children getting vaccinated.