Restaurants and gastropubs will be told to close on Christmas Eve under plans going to cabinet this morning.
The ban on flights from the UK is also being extended until the end of the year.
It comes as Ministers have been warned Level 5 restrictions will be needed after Christmas.
Last night the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan made a presentation to the coalition party leaders last night setting out a stark picture of rising case numbers as well as fears over the new strain of the virus emerging from the UK.
He told them Level Five restrictions will be needed at some point after Christmas.
Following the meeting, a number of recommendations are going to cabinet today.
From mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve restaurants, gastropubs, hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, cinemas and galleries will have to close.
Non-essential retail will be allowed to remain open.
Sources said there will be supports for those businesses that will have to close, but it’s unclear whether these will be new schemes.
The ban on intercounty travel will return from December 27th. However, there will be exemptions for returning to work.
So if someone left Dublin to go home for Christmas, they would be allowed to return to Dublin after the 27th when they are returning to work.
The travel ban on flights from the UK will be extended until at least December 31st and kept under review.
The details on when restrictions on household visits will tighten will be debated at cabinet this morning.
The 14-day incidence of Covid-19 is now rising faster than at any point since March.
It’s now increased to 122 per 100,000 after 727 new cases were confirmed last night.
51 of these were in Kilkenny with up to four more in Carlow meaning the local fortnightly rates stand at 226.7 and 191.5 respectively, both still in the higher five counties.
While the reproduction rate could be as high as 1.6 across the country.
Professor Philip Nolan, chair of NPHET’s modelling advisory group, says cases are increasing rapidly across the country.
Meanwhile, cases with links to the UK are now being prioritised to look for evidence of a new strain of Covid19.
Cillian de Gascun, chair of the state’s expert advisory group, says it hasn’t been detected here yet.
The number of patients with the virus at St Luke’s Hospital for Carlow and Kilkenny continues to fall.
There were 21 being treated there last night, after one more diagnosis in the previous day.
Three people are still in critical care and a further three are suspected of being infected.
At University Hospital Waterford ten people are being treated for Covid19, but there have been no more admissions in the past day or so and no other suspected cases there at the moment.
As much of Europe bans UK arrivals over concerns about Covid 19 efforts are underway here to bring stranded Irish residents home.
Consular flights have been arranged for this evening and ferry access is also being arranged.
Due to public health concerns, these travel arrangements are not available to people living in Britain who were planning trips to Ireland for Christmas.
Arrangements are being put in place to facilitate two specific and limited categories of people to return to Ireland.
International travellers who are transiting and citizens normally resident here who are currently caught out on short trips to Britain.
That includes people who’ve travelled to the UK for emergency medical treatment.
The Department of Foreign affairs says there will be consular flights from Britain evening…. and limited access to ferries for Irish residents who got stranded in the UK with their cars.
Anyone eligible to travel should immediately contact the department’s dedicated assistance line on 01 6131700.
Stormont ministers held an emergency meeting overnight, following a row over whether a travel ban should be introduced across the border.
Health Minister, Robin Swann, has recommended issuing guidance, advising against non-essential travel into and out of Northern Ireland.
He’s also advised that anyone arriving into the region self-isolate for 10 days.
In The UK
Lorry drivers have been urged not to travel to ports in the south of England due to the border closure.
The M20 coast-bound motorway in Kent has been closed overnight in a bid to ease congestion.
German truck driver Nicholas Kramer is doubtful he’ll make it back to Dusseldorf in time for Christmas.
The World Health Organisation says the more Covid19 is allowed to spread, the more opportunity it has to change.
It says it’s time to double down on the public health basics as governments prepare for the global vaccine rollout.
The Executive Director of the WHO Emergencies Programme, Dr Michael Ryan says the bottom line is that people need to suppress transmission as quickly as possible.