The easing of restrictions to allow families meet up could be delayed if Covid cases spike, the Justice Minister has warned.
Helen McEntee has said it has been a "very difficult year" for many and the Government want people to be able to visit loved ones and to celebrate Christmas with friends and family.
But she warned: "We're playing a balancing act here and there's no point in saying we're not."
Ms McEntee said the Cabinet are ready to make changes and to pull back from the current plan to allow for household visits and travel outside county bounds from December 18.
She said if Government see cases "shoot out of control" then they may have to act, warning that "nothing is set in stone".
"Clearly if things start to change and dramatically decrease and to go in a direction we don't want them to then we will be there and we would be ready to engage and come together as a Cabinet with all of the experts and those who have advised us and worked with us."
The Minister said that we are now starting from a "different base" than the summer when the first lockdown was lifted and the daily number of cases was very low.
"We are in a slightly different space here so while we have set dates, you know, where things will open up a little bit more on December 18 that will go until January 6, if we need to change those of course, we will do that."
She said shops and businesses have made a huge effort to ensure people feel safe and have put measures in place to limit huge congregations of people.
"We do know, however, that as you open up society and we've seen as over the summer that this virus will begin to spread again, what we need to try and do is make sure that we limit that spread," she told RTÉ's Claire Byrne show.
Separately the Minister for Justice said it was "wrong" of the British Government to rule out a public inquiry into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.
"We think it should go ahead, and we think this type of investigation should happen. And I think it's wrong that the British Government have decided not to, or have said that they're not going to."
She said the Government would be pursuing the issue.