Coronavirus: Government publishes list of essential services

Farmers, transport workers, journalists among those exempt from some travel restrictions

Waste collection is one of the services deemed essential by the Government during the coronavirus crisis. File photograph: Alan Betson

The Government has published a list of workers who provide an “essential service” and can therefore continue to go to work despite restrictions introduced on Friday night.

Among the list of professions included are farmers, farm labourers, manufacturers of food and beverage products and construction workers involved in “essential health and related projects” relevant to the coronavirus crisis.

It also includes transport workers, news publishers, hotels or essential accommodation providers, banking and financial service workers, healthcare, social care, community and voluntary workers and certain retail workers.

However construction workers have been restricted to those involved in “essential health and related projects” relevant to the pandemic.


The document, which was published on Saturday evening, lists specific examples of workers within the following industries:

  • agriculture and fishing
  • manufacturing
  • repair and installation of machinery and equipment
  • electricity, gas and water
  • construction
  • wholesale and retail trade
  • transport storage and communication
  • accommodation and food services
  • information and communications
  • financial and legal activities
  • professional, scientific and technical activities
  • rental and leasing activities
  • administrative and support services
  • public administration and defence
  • human health and social work activities
  • community/voluntary services

People have been told to stay at home in virtually all circumstances and all public and private gatherings have been banned for two weeks as part of the Government’s latest sweeping measures to tackle coronavirus, also known as Covid-19.

The only exceptions to the stay-at-home rule is for travel to health, social care or other essential work, shopping for food and takeaways, medical appointments and for “vital family reasons” such as providing care.

People will also be allowed take “brief, individual” physical exercise within 2km of their home.

The document says if you are not engaged in the provision of essential services, then “you are not permitted to travel to and from work until April 12th, 2020”.

There will be a grace period until 6pm on Monday, March 30th, for people “who need to make necessary arrangements to wind down their activities in an orderly way”.

“This should however be done in a way that minimises travel and personal interaction as much as possible,” the guidance document states.

It says in “exceptional circumstances” it is accepted that some extra time will be needed for a wind down of activity or it may be necessary for a site to continue to operate “at a reduced level of activity” (eg in complex manufacturing processes or very large construction projects).

“This guidance will be kept under ongoing review, and will be updated as required,” it adds.

Employers have been told that they should refer to the guidance document to decide whether their organisation is providing an essential service but that it is not necessary to seek official authorisation.

Workers should carry work identification or a letter from their employer indicating they are “an essential employee” as well as one other form of identification.

The self-employed, farmers or agricultural workers and members of the clergy have been told to carry one form of identification with them at all times.

The document says all organisations that provide essential services should have “business continuity and resilience plans” in place.

“This should take account of the possibility that key workers or key facilities may be impacted by Covid-19.”

In response to the publication, Danny McCoy, chief executive of employers’ group Ibec, said: “For essential business that continue to operate in this crisis, we support the workforce who are at the front line. For the shops and utilities, there is a wide array of businesses and factories essential to their supply chains. Their work, courage and service must be commended in these difficult circumstances.

“It takes a varied, diverse and complex set of businesses to ensure the essential running of public service as well as the provision of goods and services to households. Today’s list published by Government is reflective of this.”


Agriculture and fishing

  • farmers
  • farm labourers
  • farm relief service workers
  • others involved directly or indirectly in crop and animal production and related activities (including veterinary services), and workers involved in fishing


  • the manufacture of food and beverage products
  • the manufacture of prepared animal feeds
  • the manufacture of work-wear apparel or footwear
  • the manufacture of pulp, paper and paperboard and wood
  • the printing and reproduction of newspapers and other media services
  • the manufacturing of coke and refined petroleum products
  • the manufacturing of alumina; chemicals and chemical products
  • the manufacture of pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations
  • the manufacture of products necessary for the supply chain of essential services; computer, electronic and optical products including semi-conductors; electrical equipment, machinery and other equipment (including agricultural and forestry machinery); medical devices; and medical and dental equipment and supplies

Repair and installation of machinery and equipment

  • the supply, repair and installation of machinery and equipment and industrial machinery and equipment for essential services

Electricity, gas and water

  • electric power generation, transmission and distribution
  • extraction and distribution of gas
  • water collection, treatment and supply
  • sewerage; waste collection, remediation activities and other waste management treatment and disposal activities


  • essential health and related projects relevant to the Covid-19 crisis, and supplies necessary for such projects
  • repair/construction of critical road and utility infrastructure
  • delivery of emergency services to businesses and homes on an emergency call-out basis in areas such as electrical, plumbing, glazing and roofing

Wholesale and retail trade

  • retail services in accordance with the separate "Updated Essential Retail Outlets" list
  • wholesale and distribution services necessary for the sale of food, beverages, fuel, medicines, medical products and devices and essential household products; takeaways and food delivery services

Transport storage and communication

  • land transport (for example, bus, rail and taxi services)
  • road, rail, sea and air freight
  • sea and air passenger services; ports and airports
  • warehousing and support activities for transportation including cargo-handling
  • postal and courier activities
  • network control and critical maintenance (including roads)
  • safety-related functions

Accommodation and food services

  • hotels or similar providing essential accommodation (including homeless, direct provision and related services)
  • food and beverage service activities in accordance with the separate "essential retail outlets list" or for supply to a business engaged in an essential service

Information and communications

  • the publishing of newspapers, journals and periodicals as well as video, television programme production, sound recording, radio and television broadcasting; wired and satellite and telecommunications activities; internet and cloud providers; data centres and related services

Financial and legal activities

  • banking and financial services (including banks, credit unions and post offices)
  • accountancy, legal and insurance services necessary to support essential services and vulnerable people

Professional, scientific and technical activities

  • engineering, technical testing activities and analysis
  • scientific research and development activities
  • regulation, inspection and certification services necessary to support essential services

Rental and leasing activities

  • rental and lease of cars
  • light motor vehicles and trucks necessary to support the provision of essential services

Administrative and support services

Where necessary to support other essential services:

  • employment placement and human resources associated with the recruitment and deployment of workers
  • security activities to assist in the delivery of essential services and the securing of premises closed to the public
  • cleaning of buildings and industrial cleaning activities; business support activities which are necessary to support essential services included on this list; payroll and payment services necessary for the operation of businesses; data processing, hosting and related activities

Public administration and defence

  • Public administration activities necessary to support essential services and provision of social protection benefits (including Civil Service and Local Government)
  • An Garda Síochána, Garda Staff and the Garda Reserve
  • public order, safety, fire service and ambulance activities
  • the Defence Forces
  • emergency call answering service to ensure administration of justice
  • Prison services and Child Detention services
  • cybersecurity
  • regulatory processes and certification required to ensure supply chains, food, medicine and general process safety
  • operation of botanical gardens, parks, forests and nature reserves
  • funeral services
  • religious personnel
  • office-holders and public representatives

Human health and social work activities

  • hospital services
  • paramedical and essential therapy activities
  • public health activities (including all those deployed to contract tracing and Covid-19 testing services)
  • laboratory services
  • drug treatment and addiction services
  • hospice services
  • pharmacy services
  • primary care, general and specialist medical practice activities provided by public and private providers
  • emergency dental practice activities
  • blood donation service
  • residential care activities (including nursing care, mental health and substance abuse, elderly and persons with disabilities, children's residential services)
  • homecare home help and other community services
  • social work and social care activities (including disability services, mental health, child protection and welfare, domestic, sexual and gender based violence, homeless services including outreach)
  • ambulance/pre-hospital emergency care services
  • minor injury units
  • maternity services
  • health, social work, environmental, food safety regulatory activities

Community/Voluntary Services

  • community and voluntary workers, working in a publicly commissioned service, not otherwise included on the list, deployed to assist in the delivery of essential services
  • volunteer services operating under the local authority emergency management framework in accordance with public health guidance
Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times