SIPTU representatives have today (Friday, 8th January) called on the Government to strictly limit childcare services to only the families of essential frontline workers and the most vulnerable children. Head of Strategic Organising, Darragh O’Connor, said: “Early Years educators are genuinely frightened going to their workplaces. It is impossible to socially distance when caring for children and the use of facemasks is not mandatory. They are also extremely concerned by reports that the new strains of Covid-19 may infect children more easily than previous ones.” “Covid-19 is continuing to rapidly spread and there is a need for everyone to reduce their social contacts. In light of this situation, our members are calling on the Government to strictly limit childcare services to the families of essential frontline workers for the days they are required to be at work and to the most vulnerable children.” “The ‘List of Essential Workers’, updated today by the Department of an Taoiseach, clearly states which jobs are deemed essential and they must be in services that can only be provided in person and not delivered remotely. Currently workers not in this category have access to childcare services. “The strict restriction of childcare services should be implemented along with other protective measures for workers in the sector including priority vaccine access, targeted testing and the risk assessment of all work settings.” He added: “Early Years educators also need clear and up-to-date evidence from NPHET that childcare settings are safe for workers and children under the current circumstances. They need to see clear action from the Government that recognises their role as essential frontline workers, including a commitment to introducing sick pay and premium payments.”