On Wednesday, cabinet members met once again to discuss the tightening of COVID-19 restrictions.
In a bid to suspend the mass movement of approximately one million people, it extended the nationwide closure of schools and childcare facilities until 1 February.
For parents working from home while trying to meet their children's needs, this is an extremely difficult time.
Like thousands of rural parents nationwide, Cork dairy farmer and Agri Aware chair Alan Jagoe and his wife Helen continue to face the daily collision of work and childcare responsibilities.
“Helen is a secondary school teacher and is expected to be teaching online.
"The three girls are under the age of six and all at home right now. We are expecting our fourth baby in April.
"As well as that, there will be over 200 cows calving over the next couple of months.
And with the nature of farming at this time of year, I won’t be able to spend as much time inside as I would like, helping out with the kids."
Hold the calves!
“We can’t tell the cows ‘hold on to your calves for another few months, because we’re expecting another baby ourselves and the schools are not open’.”
Alan is very grateful for the childcare support of his parents during the usual spring rush, but, like many others, he simply cannot rely on it this year.
“Traditionally, our parents are the ones we turn to," he explains.
"But we are all in our own bubbles at the moment and cannot put our parents’ health at risk in order to rectify the closure of schools and crèches.
On the farm you can’t stop working – you can’t stop feeding livestock and looking after crops
“Years ago, one parent may have been able to look after the children because a family could get by on a single farm income, but that just isn’t the case anymore," he continues.
"And unfortunately, on the farm you can’t stop working – you can’t stop feeding livestock and looking after crops."
“I acknowledge that the Government have supplied many people with the PUP, but it is not ideal in the long run, as it will have to be paid back in the future and the childcare situation is urgent.”
Farm safety paramount
Farm safety is paramount and particularly important during periods of high stress.
As we now set out preparing for a busy spring time, it is vital that we ensure our children are safe on the farm while they stay at home.
“While mammy or daddy is trying to finish work on the laptop and the other is out on the farm, children can wander," he says.
"The farm safety issue here is a huge concern. Coming up to the spring, there is so much going on, with tractors and machinery on the go, milk lorries reversing and excited cows and ewes around.
“We are all exhausted by this juggling now and tiredness can be a factor to letting your safety guard slip. As a farmer and a parent, you have to operate in a safe manner above anything else.”