All children over the age of nine will soon have to wear masks in shops, on public transport and other indoor settings.
The new advice was published this afternoon after it was approved by Cabinet.
Meanwhile, primary school children from third class up will have to wear masks from tomorrow.
Neither measure is a legal requirement with the Government instead deciding to issue them as recommendations to both schools and parents.
Parents are also being encouraged to reduce their children’s social contacts for the next two weeks.
The Government said “parents know their children best and know the activities that matter most to them".
It said parents should prioritise their children’s activities – opting for outdoor activities instead of indoor where possible and reducing the number of children involved in any particular activity.
Mask wearing for third class and above in primary school is due to start tomorrow and will be mandatory, despite some earlier reporting
— Seán Defoe (@SeanDefoe) November 30, 2021
Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, the Taoiseach said COVID cases have gone through the roof among five to 11-year-olds.
“The target now is to get to the Christmas break, recalibrate and review how we deal with the next semester,” he said.
“The advice we have receive this week is from public health doctors who are saying they believe children should reduce their socialisation.
“Why? Because they showed us graphs yesterday and the five to 11-year-olds are going through the roof literally speaking in terms of number – or had been for the last number of weeks – and their parents also.”
Meanwhile, from Friday, everyone arriving into the State from overseas will need a negative/not detected COVID test – even if they are vaccinated or recovered from COVID.
Professionally administered antigen tests will be accepted provided they were taken in the 48 hours before travel. The tests cannot be self-administered and "must be taken and certified by an established operator in the relevant country."
PCR tests should be taken in the 72 hours before travel.
Antigen tests will not be accepted from people who are not vaccinated and cannot prove they have recently recovered from the virus.
Air and sea carriers will be required to carry out pre-boarding checks for the tests with spot checks also carried out at ports and airports.
The measure is set to apply for at least two weeks and Government will then keep it under review with a view to lifting it as soon as possible.
Mandatory Hotel Quarantine
People who arrive in Ireland without a negative COVID test will face fines and be required to isolate at home or at their place of stay.
Mandatory Hotel Quarantine is likely to be brought back into force as soon as new legislation can make its way through the Oireachtas.
The Government has opted against subsidising antigen tests – insisting that a number of large retailers have already reduced their prices in recent days.
People are advised to use antigen tests when they have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed case, have no symptoms and are fully vaccinated.
People who have no symptoms but are regularly in high-risk environments are advised to use antigen tests twice a week.