The head of the Health Service Executive (HSE) says we need to 'call out' behaviours that could significantly impact on the spread of COVID-19.
Paul Reid says people can keep living their lives, but in a very different way.
However he says there is currently no "big, new solution" in how we approach the pandemic.
He told Newstalk Breakfast: "We need to call out behaviours that have a significant impact on the transmission of this virus - so behaviours like Galway the other night, to major christenings right now or parties or major gatherings.
"It's not just about younger people, it's about all of us looking at our daily activities, how we're interacting with each other, how we meeting each other, how we plan various society engagements that we do need to take part in.
"But doing them with reduced numbers, doing them by keeping a separation, doing them with using protections of our masks.
"It is about something that we've not lived with for most all of our lives and now we've had a shock over the past seven months or so".
"At this point in time people are tired, frustrated, angry, winter's coming in, nights are getting darker, getting colder - people are really hoping for a kind of magic turnaround moment that really gives us all a very big, new solution in terms of how we approach this.
"My own view is first of all we do need to give people hope: there will be an end to this awful phase that we're all going through.
"The unfortunate point is, none of us can determine right now when that will be.
"So from my perspective, my view is we need to make the journey towards that end, then we can all live our lives in a very different way - but we can still live our lives, we can still have a society."
'Magic new approach'
But Mr Reid said there is a danger when we start to divide and categorise society.
"It doesn't deal with society as a society, it starts to categorise younger people, older people and actually I don't think that's what works for Ireland, I don't think that's what works for this virus.
"The virus doesn't determine differences between young and old, it makes no distinction.
"So I totally understand people are looking for this magic new approach - but if you listen to [WHO's] Mike Ryan this week: continuously saying it is about adjusting our lives, it is about making the journey a better one that we can all go on.
"But I just think that propositions like a separatist approach for elderly and younger people is not the Irish society we know and embrace and love".
"Relative to other European piers, I think Irish society has done largely quite well", he added.
"We really have to galvanize the younger people, connect with them strongly".
Asked if the approach being used was too soft, Mr Reid said: "Personally I don't believe so.
"I think it is about what we did manage to do in this first phase - keeping people with us.
"And I know this point is well made: young people have made huge sacrifices to date, let's recognise that firstly, let's call out the wrong behaviours and let's find a way".
"I think young people have changed Irish society over the last 20 years for the better.
"When they connect with big issues for Ireland, they are our greatest ambassadors".