Children in third class in primary school and above will be required to wear masks in school from today.
The new guidelines from the Department of Education state a medical certificate is required for an exemption, while those without an exemption who do not wear a mask will be refused entry.
The Government is also calling for less indoor socialising among under-12s for the next two weeks, after a sharp increase in Covid cases.
Facing criticism in the Dáil over the new measures, Minister for Education Norma Foley said there will be some “latitude” in the coming days, as schools start to deal with the new requirements.
Government pandemic powers are set to be extended with new legislation to be rushed through the Oireachtas in the coming days, as Ministers face the prospect of new Covid restrictions until the middle of next year.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) are due to meet on Thursday, at which point they may recommend further restrictions, in light of continuing high case numbers and concerns over the Omicron variant.
Earlier this week, Cabinet approved a number of new measures to deal with the latest wave of the virus, including the requirement that passengers arriving in Ireland from Friday will need to present a negative Covid test.
Wage Subsidy Scheme
The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) is being cut from today.
Until now, the State paid up to €350 a week towards a worker's wages, however, this rate will now be reduced to €203.
The €205 payment will also fall to €151.50.
Operation Open City
A Garda operation to keep public transport moving and minimise traffic disruption in Dublin city ahead of Christmas began on Wednesday morning.
There will be high-visibility and enforcement activity up untilChristmas Eve, as part of Operation Open City.
Drivers are being asked to familiarise themselves with the changes to road layouts to accommodate cycle lanes and outdoor dining in recent months, while mandatory intoxicant checkpoints will also take place as part of the operation.