People should work from home unless it is absolutely necessary they attend in person, the Taoiseach has said.
Announcing a series of measures aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19, Micheál Martin said the Cabinet has agreed to pause the “phased and cautious return to the workplace”.
The Government position since September had been for a return to the workplace on a phased and cautious basis for specific business requirements.
However last week the National Public Health Emergency Team has asked the Government to “consider reinstating previous advice to work from home where possible”.
There will be no reintroduction of remote learning for schools and third-level institutions at this point.
Business group Ibec has said business will continue to fully support the Work Safely protocols.
The body said “clear guidance” is needed to ensure that office working is available to those with legitimate reasons to avail of it.
Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said: “business remains concerned that the last period of full remote working was exceptionally difficult for many working at home in cramped and unsuitable working conditions.”
He added that “the isolation of full remote has impacted on mental health and well-being” for some workers.
“Guidance is required as soon as possible with regard to ensuring office working can continue for those workers for whom it is a necessity,” he said.
The Small Firms Association has expressed disappointment that the recommendation has been issued.
“Of course, we acknowledge the public health situation we find ourselves in but since the outset of this pandemic, small firms have always been at the forefront of following the guidelines such as the work safely protocol to the letter,” SFA Director Sven Spollen Behrens said.
He said the Government “must now look the longer-term picture of what the response will be when spikes of Covid flare up”.
“Continuous system of openings and closing are not sustainable in the longer term,” he added.