The Government has received no specific advice from public health officials on children limiting their activities, according to the Taoiseach.
On Wednesday evening, the country’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn advised parents to reduce their children’s activities over the remainder of the Halloween midterm.
It comes amid a rise in Covid-19 cases among primary school children, with a total of 4,393 cases reported in children aged 5 to 12 in the two weeks to last Monday, compared to 2,930 over a similar period earlier this month.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said on Thursday that it is important for the mental health of children that they can keep up outdoor activities.
“We have received no advice in terms of children not doing outdoor sports or being engaged in outdoor activity,” he said.
“I think one of the dangers of the next phases, because of the nature of our weather, that you’re going to get far more indoor sort of activity and living conditions which can be a factor in the spread of the disease.”
Meanwhile on Thursday, psychotherapist Stella O’Malley said children’s mental health will suffer if they are asked to limit sporting activities and playdates.
“I know that Ronan Glynn is completely centred on the physical health and I get that, and I’m a psychotherapist so I’m more focused on the mental health, but I want to point out, even the World Health Organisation’s definition of health is combining the two, and they impact each other,” she told Newstalk radio.
“This is very damaging on children. We’ve already seen it play out for the last 20-odd months on children and it has really impacted many children.
“It’s going to severely affect their mental health and their trust in the public institutions, if they’ve been told they can get back to normal, have their life again, start again, and then it gets swiped from them so quickly.”
Dr Glynn has said that trick or treating can go ahead this Halloween, but urged parents to take precautions and reduce the frequency of activities.
If we do take the basic precautions, there’s no reason that people can’t do the things we usually do at Halloween
“People can trick or treat, people can do the things they normally do at Halloween,” he said.
“But maybe don’t do it every day over the weekend, maybe don’t meet up with multiple different groups of children. If you have a sick child, please isolate them and don’t let them meet up with other children.”
“It’s not a message that any of us want to be giving, and it’s not a message I’m sure that parents want to hear, but we do need to take the basic precautions. On the other hand if we do take the basic precautions, there’s no reason that people can’t do the things we usually do at Halloween,” he continued.
“If your children are going on playdates or engaging in sport, think about all of the other activities they’re engaging in and just see do they need to be engaging in everything that they’re engaging in, given how high the incidence is in the country at the moment.”