Childcare providers are warning the decision to allow asymptomatic children who are close contacts of COVID-19 cases to remain in creches will result in increased closures this winter.
It was announced yesterday that under 12s who attend primary schools or childcare facilities and have no symptoms won't have to restrict movements from Monday.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan says NPHET is now "reassured that the reopening of schools has not led to an increase in transmission of COVID-19 amongst school-going children or more widely across the population".
He said "now is the right time" to change approach to close contacts.
The new rules only apply to children who were close contacts in childcare facilities or schools - meaning household close contacts still need to restrict their movements.
Elaine Dunne, chairperson of the Federation of Early Childhood Providers, says they're "shocked" and "disappointed" at the decision to change the rules.
She said: "We are the ones that opened up our doors last June to look after frontline and essential workers.
"Now we're going to be forced to close our doors - that's going to happen quite quickly, I think, at this point in time.
"It's just going to be a free-for-all - it's going to spread fast and wide. We're digesting what has happened... we're not happy about it, and providers are very concerned."
There were 90 new outbreaks in schools last week - up 50 on the previous week - while numbers in childcare facilities fell from 22 to nine over the same period.