The Government will consider today whether to place the country back into a second lockdown.
On Sunday, the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has recommended all counties be moved to Level Five restrictions.
Saturday's daily figure of 613 confirmed cases of Covid-19 prompted an emergency meeting of NPHET, held yesterday.
Under the chairmanship of Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan for the first time since July, NPHET's recommendation is thought to have caught those in Government buildings completely by surprise.
NPHET has said every county should move to the most severe level of restrictions and return to essentially a full lockdown.
Public health officials said Level Five is now needed for four weeks to deal with the increasing spread of the virus.
Anger and surprise greeted the news in Government circles, with former minister Barry Cowen calling it the nuclear option.
The Cabinet is due to meet this afternoon when they will discuss whether such an escalation is justified, considering the social and economic ramifications.
Dr Holohan will first meet with the coalition party leaders today to discuss the plans that NPHET deems are necessary.
A move to level five would mean a return to the strictest level of measures similar to earlier in the year.
There would be no visits between households, only essential retail shops would remain open, but schools and creches would stay open.
Level five recommends that no organised gatherings, indoor or outdoor should take place.
Only 10 people would be allowed to attend funeral services and weddings would be limited to six guests.
Bars, cafes and restaurants would be allowed to provide takeaways only.
Travel would be restricted to within 5km of your house for exercise and all but essential service work should be done from home.
People would be asked not to use public transport unless necessary.
Visits to care homes would be suspended except for compassionate circumstances.