Last night, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said Ireland is doing well in comparison with many other countries and he doesn't believe the highest level of restrictions will be imposed.
"The kind of restrictions we would be thinking about imposing at a point between Christmas and New Year's would be restrictions on hospitality - essentially closing hospitality again - and limiting visits to one household visiting another household, but not a total ban on all household visits," he said. "But retail and personal services would stay open."
The Government is due to announce a plan for the new restrictions early next week, to give businesses time to prepare.
Dr Nuala O’Connor, of Elmwood Medical Practice in Frankfield, is the Covid-19 lead for the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP). She said cases of Covid-19 are up and the number of community referrals for testing for the weekend ending Sunday, December 13, was up 11% compared to the previous week.
There were 27,000 people referred for testing in the weeks ending November 29 and December 6 compared to the 30,000 referred in the week ending December 13.
Dr O’Connor said GPs are referring more people for testing and that the number of positive tests is up by 9.7%. She said the 14-day incidence rate has gone up from 80.2 on December 7 to 84.7 on December 14, an increase of 6.
Dr O’Connor said that 15 out of 26 counties have a seven-day rate greater than half of the 14-day rate which she said “means the incidence in those counties is rising”.
The number of people in hospitals with Covid-19, however, has decreased slightly and the number of people in intensive care is stable.
“We see how easy it is for places to get overwhelmed,” she said, referring to countries going into lockdown including.
The Netherlands, Germany, parts of Italy, the Czech Republic, and Canada.
“In Ireland, the message is we’ve done really really well and it's 10 days into the easing of restrictions so it’s the first weekend of the easing and we’re seeing now the effect of increased socialisation from that first weekend.
“10 days from the weekend just gone we’ll see another increase and then next weekend is probably going to be the big socialising weekend, the weekend just before Christmas, and again that’s going to cause a rise.
“We very much feel that we bottomed out and are on the rise again now,” she said.
The Department of Health was notified of a further 484 new cases nationally on Thursday, of which 40 were in Cork.
On the same day last week, December 10, there were 11 new cases in Cork. The 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 population was 27.1 and 147 new cases were reported over the same period.
The week previous, on December 3, less than five cases were reported in Cork. The 14-day incidence rate was 52.3 from November 9 to December 2 and there were a total of 284 new cases reported over that same period.
“Our appeal to people is that they really need to think very carefully about who they socialise with over the next 10 days and to really keep it to those people who are most important in their lives.
“If you plan as part of the Christmas celebrations to have family or friends get together where there may be intergenerational mixing and where you may have older people or those who are medically vulnerable, you really need to think about what you do in the next 10 days because you don’t want to be the person who’s going to bring Covid into that circle of family and friends,” Dr O’Connor said.
She said that anyone who is identified as a positive case or a close contact now will be spending Christmas day in their room on their own during their 14-day isolation period and she warned people anyone who wakes up on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day feeling unwell not to enter another household.
“If you have symptoms, if you wake up on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and you feel unwell you really do need to stay at home, somebody can drop you back a bit of Christmas dinner,” she said.