Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said new fines for breaches of coronavirus restrictions will be applied to 'a very small minority of people'.
It comes as Cabinet agreed to introduce a new system of fines on Tuesday.
It is expected to go before the Oireachtas this week.
While the legislation has yet to be published, it is expected to see people who travel beyond the 5km limit or refuse to wear a face mask in certain settings facing an on-the-spot fine of up to €500.
Meanwhile people who organise an indoor gathering or house party could face an on-the-spot fine of up to €1,000.
Repeat offenders could face heavier fines and imprisonment on conviction.
Minister Donohoe told Newstalk Breakfast: "I believe they are important, I believe they will help.
"But what will dwarf their impact will be deepened consent being given to the personal behaviours that reduce the spread of this disease."
Asked if he believes the fines will improve people's behaviour towards the restrictions, he said: "Yes I do - but we are talking about a very small minority of people and behaviours to whom these fines could apply.
"It's important to emphasise that before fines like this are even issued by An Garda Síochána, the Guards will take every step to ask the behaviour to cease that might lead to these fines being issued.
"But in the small number of cases they will be needed, they will be issued and they will help with reducing the spread of this disease".
Vaccine 'needs to be discovered' in 2021
On the country heading into lockdown on Wednesday night, he said: "I absolutely understand the level of personal difficulty that so many are facing today Ciara - and it's with a heavy heart that we believed it was necessary for the health of our country and for those who live in it to move to level five."
"But what we have done... is we have rolled out a level of support that has no precedent in our history as a country.
"And as we move to level five we have deepened and strengthened all of the really important supports that have made such a difference to our country in 2020".
He said that the money the State is borrowing is "well inside the borrowing requirements that I said our country would have in April".
"If we don't have and protect jobs that we have in our country, and we lose them, our indebtedness difficulties will only get far bigger in the future - and that's why the first step has to be to try to protect employment.
"We're not throwing money at anything: what we are doing is in a very careful way releasing very large amounts of money that have one objective, which is supporting jobs".
In terms of sustaining these levels of support, Minister Donohoe said: "We can maintain much or all of what we are doing for much of 2021."
"It is very important that across 2021 two thing happen: the first thing is is that a vaccine is discovered... and then we need to agree how that vaccine is going to be supplied in Ireland and across the world.
"And the second thing that does need to happen is that we then - as our economy begins to stabilise and grow again, which it will do in 2021 because we are going to get through these terribly difficult times - we will need to reduce how much we are borrowing".
"Neither are certain, that is why we have the supports that are in place today".