Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said everyone is "feeling anger" as the Omicron variant threatens to derail Christmas plans and bring about further restrictions on socialising.
In a tweet posted on Friday morning, Mr Varadkar pointed to recent progress in the Covid situation, with the number of patients in hospital down 40 per cent from a peak a few weeks ago.
"We were winning the fight against Delta. Now Omicron is coming when we are at our most vulnerable - winter, Christmas, flu season. It’s a cruel virus," he said.
"We're all feeling anger, frustration, dismay, depression but that cannot deflect us from making the right decisions to keep our people safe," he added.
We're all feeling anger, frustration, dismay, depression but that cannot deflect us from making the right decisions to keep our people safe #covid
— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) December 17, 2021
His comments come as he and other Ministers are set to consider an earlier closing time for hospitality and curtailed crowds at sports events following fresh advice from public health advisers over the rapid spread of the variant.
Several media outlets reported late on Thursday that Ministers will consider a 5pm curfew for hospitality alongside limits on spectators on sporting events.
Government sources told The Irish Times that the mood had “darkened” around coming weeks and that major sporting events such as the Leopardstown races and forthcoming rugby fixtures hung in the balance.
There is also a question around upcoming gigs and concerts after it emerged the Omicron variant now accounts for 27 per cent of Covid cases.
There is growing discontent among Government figures about the Nphet recommendations, with several backbench TDs expressing their anger at the proposals.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin is on his way back from a European Union summit in Brussels to attend to the worsening Covid situation.
The Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19 is due to meet between 12 and 1pm and a full Cabinet meeting will be convened afterwards, around 3pm.
A live address to nation by Mr Martin is planned for 6pm, but this depends on how long the Cabinet meeting goes on for. A press conference is also expected this evening.