Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has said there will be a series of staggered dates regarding changes to restrictions, not all on the one date, over the holiday period.
Mr Ryan was speaking ahead of a Cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle.
He said the Cabinet sub-committee was briefed last night by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) where they set out the latest details in terms of what is happening with the virus.
Mr Ryan said if he was to highlight any one thing of their analysis, it is that the virus is growing fast and a particular concern is that it is growing fast in all age groups.
So, in an older cohort it is growing just as fast as younger age groups.
“That is slightly different than back in October, November”, he said.
The minister said there will be an introduction of new restrictions, which he said he believes is necessary “because of what we are seeing, not just in Ireland but other countries as well.
“When you do lose control, it’s very hard to get it back so we want to keep control”, he said.
The Cabinet looks set to increase Covid-19 restrictions significantly at its meeting this morning, but reject a recommendation from Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan to move the country to Level 5.
It is understood a Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19 agreed on a series of measures last night, including the closure of all gastro-pubs and restaurants from mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve.
The Chief Medical Officer and two senior members of NPHET briefed the Cabinet sub-committee, which includes the three coalition leaders along with the ministers for health, finance and public expenditure.
Dr Holohan expressed the view that Ireland should move to Level 5 restrictions because the Covid-19 situation here was what he termed gravely concerning.
It is understood the sub-committee has recommended to Cabinet that Government should move quickly, closing the hospitality sector from Christmas Eve, along with cinemas, theatres and personal services such as hairdressers.
They also agreed that the ban on any travel from Britain to Ireland should be extended to 31 December.
However, the Cabinet sub-committee is believed to have decided that some non-essential retail outlets, and gyms, should be allowed to stay open.
An agreed position has yet to be reached on inter-county travel. One proposal had been to restrict people to travelling within their own county from St Stephen’s Day.
On home visits, ministers will consider today if just one other household should be allowed to visit after 26 December; with all household visits being prohibited from 1 January.
Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland Adrian Cummins described the closure of hospitality from Christmas Eve as a “disastrous, devastating and crushing blow”.
Additional reporting Paul Cunningham