Organisations who work with older people and those who live alone have called for greater clarity around what circumstances people are allowed to bring other people into their homes.

Under current restrictions people are being asked to have no visitors to their home or garden, except for essential purposes.

Examples cited are providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people - particularly those who live alone.

But organisations say it is not completely clear what this means in practice and at all levels of restrictions.

Among those affected is Tom McArdle, who lives alone in Dublin.

He said what he found hardest back in March when restrictions were at their height was not being able to have his children and grandchildren come to visit.

He said there is a huge difference between a phone call and having them there in person.

The CEO of Alone, Sean Moynihan, said the Government needs to ensure that people's physical and mental health needs are supported. 

He would like more clarity around how to meet the emotional needs of people and the loneliness that some are experiencing.

Mr Moynihan said it is now clear that visiting people to deal with physical healthcare needs is alright.

But, he asked, was it ok to visit someone if they are struggling with mental health issues because of isolation or loneliness? And how can that be managed?

He is hoping the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) will issue clear guidelines on this in the coming days.

Experts say the issue of isolation is not just affecting older people. Chartered psychologist Allison Keating said she knows people who spend the entire day alone.

In some cases, they have very demanding jobs and are in front of their screens all day long.

They are not seeing their colleagues in person and then there is no social contact outside of that. She said that cohort of people are really struggling.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn yesterday said that NPHET is looking at guidance for those living alone as well as single parent families.

Age Action Ireland spokesperson Celine Clarke said it was really important to get clarity on how to manage the risk of coronavirus for people experiencing isolation in order to create some sort of support network - especially heading into wintertime 

Tom McArdle said he has some hope that his children can visit him one by one in the coming weeks.

But what he fears most with the new restrictions is that they come at a time when evenings are getting darker - and "this makes for very long nights".

Organisations that provide advice and support for people experiencing loneliness include Aware, Age Action Ireland the Samaritans.