Those involved in the production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery of food have been included in the Department of Education’s list of key workers.

Those children who have parents in the key workers list will be prioritised for education during the general school shut down, due to begin on 23 March, to impede the spread of Coronvirus.

A statement on the department’s website, reads, ‘The most recent scientific advice on how to further limit the spread of COVID-19 is clear. If children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.

That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.

‘It is important to underline that schools, colleges and other educational establishments remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.

‘Schools are, therefore, being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.’

The Watershed Group has two sites in Ireland, where the decision to close schools was made on 12 March. In preparation the group rolled out a raft measures across all its production units in Europe to keep the production of food packaging up to demand. Liz Waters, CEO, said, ‘Fortunately all our teams are taking their roles in providing food for the nation’s shelves very seriously.’