Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said "nobody can rule out" the reintroduction of pandemic restrictions.
Speaking on the fringes of an EU summit in Brussels, Mr Varadkar said: "The CMO (chief medical officer) was clear about that in his letter.
"I've always been clear that I thought we'd have to get through at least another winter before we could say that the pandemic was safely behind us.
"So, nobody can rule out a return to restrictions. But we do have 800 more beds in our hospital system than we had before the pandemic, we have surge capacity in ICUs, we have the ability, if needs be, to use the private hospitals.
It comes after the chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan urged people over the age of 60 to restrict their movements.
The Tánaiste also said that things may not return to the "old normal" until next spring.
"That involves people trying to do their daily activities but take precautions as necessary," Mr Varadkar added.
He said he hoped to return to a nightclub this side of Christmas "if things improve".
"I'm not going to tell people what they should or shouldn't do, I don't think that's the right message at the moment," he added.
"What I would say to people is that if they are going to a nightclub over the weekend, what I would say is that if you're symptomatic, don't.
Speaking in Brussels, Mr Varadkar added: "The projections are clear.
"We are in for a difficult couple of months."
He added that while people should "try to get on with our lives", they should do so in a safe way.