Ministers announce extension of definition of key workers to access childcare

Date published: 04 June 2020

Ministers Robin Swann and Peter Weir have unveiled details of plans to enhance provision for the extension of childcare across Northern Ireland.

Covid-19 We must all do it to get through it

Minister Swann explained: “As a first step, we are proposing that the definition of keyworker is extended to bring it into line with the definition used for schools. This will enable a greater number of keyworkers who are parents to access childcare if they need it to be able to go to work.

“The initiative has been developed in line with medical and scientific advice and with input from across stakeholders from elected representatives, parents and childcare providers in respect of the importance of establishing a recovery plan for the childcare sector.”

Education Minister Peter Weir said “From Monday 8 June, we will be extending access to childcare provision to all of the keyworkers who are currently able to access school places. This is in line with the Executive’s Coronavirus Recovery Plan to enable as many people as possible to get back to work.

“This follows the Executive’s £12million allocation to support the childcare sector as part of the implementation of the COVID-19 Childcare Sector Support Scheme.

 “As demand for childcare grows, we are determined to ensure that measures are in place to support all our people who are working tirelessly at the frontline of this current crisis.  Today’s announcement will enable a greater number of keyworkers who are parents to access childcare if they need it to be able to go to work.”

Notes to editors: 

1.    Definition of key workers:

·       Health and Social Care.  This includes doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, home carers and staff required to maintain our health and social care sector;

·       Education and childcare.  This includes pre-school and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who will remain active during the Covid-19 response;

·       Public safety and national security.  This includes civilians and officers in the police (including key contractors), Fire and Rescue Service, prison service and other national security roles;

·       Transport.  This will include those keeping air, water, road and rail transport modes operating during the Covid-19 response;

·       Utilities, and Communication.  This includes staff needed for oil, gas, electricity and water (including sewage) and primary industry supplies to continue during the Covid-19 response, as well as key staff in telecommunications, post and delivery, banking and waste disposal;

·       Financial Services - This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure);

·       Food and other necessary goods.  This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution and sale, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (e.g. hygiene, medical, etc.);

·       Retail. This includes those workers who have been working throughout the pandemic in food retail, for example, and will now extend to those working in other retail businesses permitted to operate by the Executive  from June 2020;

·       Other workers essential to delivering key public services such as the National Crime Agency; and

·       Key national and local government including those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the Covid-19 response.

2.    Infection control measures include:

  • Re-opening of provision (both childcare settings and childminders), overseen by Health and Social Care Trust Early Years Teams, who will have access to COVID-19 advice from the Public Health Agency;
  • Restrictions on group size, and groups being required to be kept apart;
  • A gradual increase in the numbers of families childminders can provide childcare for, moving from 2 to 3 families from 8 June; and
  • The production of updated guidance for the childcare sector which will apply from 8 June.    

3. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email at

4. For DE media enquiries please contact the Press Office by email at

5. Follow the Department of Health on twitter @healthdpt (external link opens in a new window/tab)

6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.


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