THE Government has been criticised for a lack of clarity on what pandemic restrictions will apply at Christmas.
Professor Philip Nolan, a leading member of the public health advice team Nphet, warned on Sunday that strict limits will be needed on Christmas get-togethers.
Junior Minister Robert Troy failed to provide any clarity when asked about the remarks, saying the situation would be kept "under review".
He said: "I can't honestly say here today, in terms of what's going to happen at Christmas.
"Only to say that the Government with Nphet, with the public health advice, are keeping the situation under constant review to ensure that we can open up the economy as much as possible in December, and to ensure that we can have as good a Christmas as possible under the circumstances."
He added: "Christmas will not be the same as previous Christmases, it can't be the same as previous Christmases. This is a highly contagious disease."
Sinn Féin TD Kathleen Funchion told RTÉ's The Week In Politics that the Government had to provide more clarity to allow people to plan for the festive season.
She said: "People were told for the last number of weeks that they had to go into Level 5 to sort of save Christmas. Now we're seeing that it's going to be very restricted anyway.
"I think the vast majority of people understand that the regulations are in place for a reason and want to follow them.
"But there does need to be a lot more in terms of planning and telling people what exactly it's going to look like if they are going to restrict people in relation to Christmas and Christmas visits."
In an interview with the Sunday Business Post, Professor Philip Nolan warned that easing restrictions at Christmas risked a third wave of the virus in the new year.
He said: "If we go back to the level of social contact we had in August and September, we are storing up difficulty for ourselves in January and February."
Dr Nuala O'Connor, the Irish College of General Practitioners' lead adviser on Covid-19, said the focus this year will be on a "safe" Christmas.
She told Newstalk Breakfast: "I think we've all got to think carefully as a society how we're going to manage Christmas this year.
"Christmas is really important in Ireland. What we have to do is try and focus on how we can have Christmas but in a safer manner.
"We know now how to get these virus numbers down and how to keep them down and it's really about narrowing the amount of people we meet on a regular basis "We also need to focus on how we can meet people safely.
"Yes, Christmas will be a bit different because if we try to have it the normal way, if there's too much getting together of people in closed, crowded, poorly ventilated indoor spaces, that's exactly where this virus loves to spread.
"We have to start thinking positively and be creative and inventive on how we can get together safely and have that connection with friends and family."
Nphet chairman Cillian De Gascun said at the weekend the advice body was considering introducing a limit on the number of close contacts people will be allowed at Christmas.