The Tánaiste has said there 'wasn't even an inkling' that there would be a recommendation to move the country to level five restrictions before Sunday evening.
It comes amid questions from opposition about whether the Government knew more than it let on about potential restrictions over the weekend.
Ministers have previously said the recommendation was a surprise, and there was anger and frustration from Government Buildings as it leaked to the media.
Last night, Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan confirmed he had spoken to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly before and after the NPHET meeting on Sunday amid concerns over the rising coronavirus rates.
However, Minister Donnelly has said level five was not mentioned in the phone call with Dr Holohan on Sunday morning.
Opposition parties have called for a full explanation from the Minister in the Dáil over the timeline, and he is now set to make a Dáil statement and take questions on the issue tonight.
'Not even an inkling'
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar today backed the Health Minister's comments that the level five recommendation was not brought up until later on Sunday.
Speaking in the Dáil, he said: "To clarify and to make clear, I was informed on Saturday - as was the Taoiseach and leader of the Green Party - that a meeting of NPHET was called on Sunday.
"There was no suggestion, not even an inkling, that level five was being contemplated - had we known that we would have sought an urgent briefing that night.
"That's what could have happened and should have happened, in my view."
It comes as NPHET is set to meet again today, to further consider the increasing number of COVID-19 across the country.
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan today indicated he'd like to see the current level three restrictions in effect for two or three weeks before considering any further restrictions.