Childcare providers are warning that the decision to allow asymptomatic children who are close contacts remain in creches will result in increased closures this winter.

Yesterday it was announced under 12s who attend primary schools or childcare facilities and have no symptoms  will not have to restrict movements from next Monday.

The move will reduce disruption to  schools, and means thousands of children who have been self-isolating can return to classrooms.

The Chief Medical Officer  Dr Tony Holohan says, given the importance of education, now is the right time to make the change as the data shows schools are low risk.

There were 90 new outbreaks in schools last week - up 50 on the previous week, while the number in childcare facilities fell from 22 to nine over the same period.

The current rules will stay in place for primary school students attending special schools or special classes, while the easing of the close-contact rules will not apply to children who are household contacts of positive cases.

The public health advice remains that children aged 12 or under who display symptoms of the virus should self-isolate and not attend school or socialise for 48 hours after they are symptom-free.

The INTO has expressed concern over the changes, and says they should be deferred until reliable data on outbreaks in schools is available.

The teachers's union has proposed that any change should be made from November 1st, after the mid-term break.

And the Chairperson of the Federation of Early Childhood Providers, Elaine Dunne, says they're "shocked" and "disappointed" at the decision..