Level 5 restrictions have worked but re-opening hospitality is difficult and will be a risk, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has told a meeting of his parliamentary party.
The private meeting heard from Mr Martin that the country will move from level 5 to “level 3 with modifications”.
He said he hoped allowing people to go to mass and other religious services will be possible around Christmas.
The Taoiseach was confronted by a number of his party colleagues who called for pubs to be allowed open and for clarity to be given to the hospitality sector.
Mr Martin said level 5 has worked and that the Government is awaiting Nphet advice before it announces the full details of the plan.
At @fiannafailparty pp:@mmcgrathtd says Ireland is leading Europe in fighting Covid. Doesn't accept FF is getting the blame. Says it is not inevitable that lockdown will happen in January. Praises leadership of @MichealMartinTD, as one TD put it "him doing that is the real news"— Daniel McConnell (@McConnellDaniel) November 25, 2020
The Taoiseach said level 5 has succeeded in lowering the numbers but the plan to be announced is not just about Christmas but also about what comes after that.
He said the main economic departments will inform decisions on re-opening, rather than a decision being taken purely on health grounds.
He also told his TDs there would be a strong emphasis on people doing their bit by way of personal responsibility in how they behave in December.
Mr Martin said the winter initiative invested a lot into the community and the country is reaping the rewards.
On a positive note, he said as the country moves into January, non-essential retail may not have to be closed down again if we learn lessons from this period.
At the meeting, TDs and Senators who called for pubs to be allowed re-open included Jackie Cahill, Marc MacSharry, Dara Calleary, Padraig O’Sullivan, Jim O’Callaghan, Mary Fitzpatrick and Joe Flaherty.
Christopher O’Sullivan, a Cork South-West TD, said the lack of clarity on hospitality is "not good". According to sources, Mr Flaherty called on the Government to “stop cowering and open up the economy".
Mr MacSharry said Fianna Fáil is getting the blame for closing the pubs adding Leo Varadkar is “outsmarting” Fianna Fáil by announcing the outcome of the lockdown before Friday. He also said the“announced everything” last Monday.
Mr Cahill said Fianna Fáil is “losing out” and getting the blame. However, Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath responded by saying he did not accept that.
He said Ireland is leading Europe in terms of battling Covid-19 and he doesn’t accept the party is being blamed.
He also said it is “not inevitable” that a third lockdown will be needed in January. Mr McGrath also paid tribute to the leadership shown by the Taoiseach.’
Mr Calleary said the country must concentrate on the roll-out of the vaccine while calling for the opening up of the hospitality sector. He said the Taoiseach must share information upon which decisions this week are being based.
Dublin Bay South TD Jim O’Callaghan said people must be rewarded for their efforts during the lockdown while Senator Mary Fitzpatrick said people need to be rewarded and should be allowed to go to mass and the pubs.