Organisations representing doctors and nurses have called on the Government to re-introduce some COVID-19 measures 'as a matter of urgency'.
In a joint statement, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and Irish Association for Emergency Medicine (IAEM) say hospitals are overwhelmed and staff need help.
This comes as over 10,000 patients have been without a bed since the mask mandate was lifted on February 28th, and more than 1,601 patients are in hospital currently with coronavirus.
"Higher rates of infection are causing high rates of hospital admission. Hospitals are overwhelmed and staff need real assistance," the groups say.
They say Government, public health officials and HSE senior management need to take action.
"Public health measures must be revisited, particularly the simple ones: mask-wearing in indoor and congregated settings and working from home.
"There should be adherence to the advice from the World Health Organisation", they add.
They also say there are "very significant risks for medical and nursing staff" who are exhausted from being on the front line, "dealing with wave-upon-wave of patients diagnosed with COVID and the other drivers of increased attendances", while dealing with their own personal and family anxieties.
'They will not stop the spread'
While emergency powers introduced to slow the spread of COVID-19 will expire at midnight.
The Health Act has given the health minister the power to restrict travel, prevent gatherings and close premises for the past two years.
The lapsing legislation would also be needed for a mandate on mask wearing to be re-introduced - something the Government has ruled out.
INMO General-Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha says: "Wearing masks and working from home will assist, they will not stop the spread, but have and will reduce intensity of infection and reduce cross infection.
"Mandating these measures is now a matter of urgency.
"Hospitals are currently not safe for patients or for staff because of the level of overcrowding and COVID infection levels.
"We need clear and coherent public health advice from Government and senior public health officials."
IAEM President Fergal Hickey adds: "The situation in Irish hospitals at present is the worst that many of my colleagues and I have seen in our careers.
"The situation at present is intolerable for all who work in our hospitals.
"Our hospitals have been hanging together by a thread of goodwill of staff but that is about to snap.
"Immediate stronger public health measures are needed: not doing so and abandoning the hospitals to the inevitable will lead to preventable unnecessary higher levels of illness requiring hospital admission and, sadly, for some a fatal outcome."