Going on holiday is not essential travel and could jeopardide Ireland's efforts to tackle COVID-19, the Finance Minister has warned.
However, Paschal Donoe says just 0.5% of recent new cases of the virus reported here have been liked with international travel.
It's been revealed that around half the people arriving into Dublin Airport on Monday were coming from holiday destinations.
Over Tuesday and Wednesday, around one-third (715 out of 2,158) of those who arrived in the airport were returning from a holiday.
The Taoiseach last night told his parliamentary party that people will face tougher sanctions for travelling for holidays.
Mandatory quarantine is being introduced for those arriving here from Brazil and South Africa due to new strains of the virus, while visa-free short-term travel from other South American countries is now suspended.
There will also be mandatory quarantine for those arriving without a negative PCR test, with 28 breaches of the test requirement reported at Dublin Airport so far this week.
However, the Government has resisted growing calls to introduce mandatory quarantine for all arrivals.
On today's Newstalk Breakfast, Minister Donohoe said the country's having an 'understandable and needed' debate about travel and the pandemic.
He said: “We have been saying now for so many weeks and even months that we cannot engage in non-essential travel outside our country.
"Essential travel means work that is absolutely necessary for our country or the maintenance of employment, or for a really important compassionate trip.
"We can’t be leaving our country at a time in which we are beating this disease - going on holiday is not essential travel."
Minister Donohoe said we're likely to see coronavirus numbers continue to fall if people continue following the guidelines in February.
However, he said the health system and frontline workers will still be under huge pressure as virus rates fall.
He said: “If we jeopardise that improving health situation with holidaymakers coming back in and even a low level of unnecessary international travel, it poses another risk again."
Meanwhile, Minister Donohoe said the supply issues around the AstraZeneca vaccine are a 'huge disappointment', especially since the EU has been helping fund development of the drug.
He said: “Even though it is a setback, we still have a really big vaccination programme we are delivering and will deliver.”
The Finance Minister said he's ‘hopeful’ other vaccines becoming available will ‘offset’ the issues caused by the AstraZeneca shortage.
He said vaccination of over-70s is still on track to begin in February once frontline healthcare workers and care home residents / staff are vaccinated.