The Taoiseach has said the Government is "minded" to follow National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) advice move to impose restrictions on the hospitality sector ahead of New Year's Eve.
Micheal Martin said it was intended that non-essential retail outlets could remain open over New Year.
"They (NPHET) are proposing significant restrictions on hospitality before New Year's Eve and Government is minded to go with that recommendation but Government has to discuss this and will decide ultimately on Tuesday, but certainly given the rising numbers over the last week and they will increase again today we're very minded to accept the advice that NPHET has given us in terms of bringing forward that date to before the New Year's Eve, which will involve additional restrictions on hospitality."
Addressing a media conference after Friday's North South Ministerial Conference he added: "That is very serious for the hospitality sector, that I acknowledge and Government stands ready to support the hospitality sector during this very, very difficult period."
Mr Martin said the Government had made clear it would move to impose further restrictions if case numbers started to rise.
"And the numbers are rising because of increased mobility and a whole range of reasons obviously during the festive season and the lead up into it. I think there is a desire on NPHET to avoid exacerbating that even more with New Year's Eve and given what has happened in Thanksgiving in the US and in Canada and indeed with other festive occasions in other countries. So that's where the Government is right now - pretty much disposed to moving in accordance with the advice that we're receiving from NPHET."
Mr Martin said the HSE would be prepared to treat Covid-19 patients from Northern Ireland if hospital capacity issues north of the border become unmanageable.
"I think neighbours always help out in situations where there can be challenges and difficulties and we certainly will not be found wanting in that respect in terms of the HSE or in terms of our services being available to help," he said.
"Just as Northern Ireland health services have been available to help patients from the Republic and that will continue to be the case and particularly so in the context of Covid-19."