Minister of State for Older People, Mary Butler, has said 99% of nursing home residents have agreed to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
She was speaking as people in nursing homes can look forward to two visits a week from Monday.
The new visitation rules apply to all homes that have fully vaccinated 80% of their residents and staff.
There is no requirement to limit each visit to less than one hour.
She told Lunchtime Live that things should change when the number of outbreaks is reduced.
"The take-up has been phenomenal: 99% of all residents have agreed to be vaccinated in nursing homes, and approximately 90% of staff.
"So that's not an issue - the issue where we have at the moment is that if there is a current outbreak of COVID in a nursing home... only one visit per fortnight can be facilitated because of the COVID outbreak - but that will pass very, very quickly".
However she said that "everything is open to change, because as I said, this virus changes constantly.
"But at the moment the most important thing is that people know that they can arrange two visits per week and go and meet their loved ones".
'Level of infection no longer falling'
She also said she cannot set any concrete date for visits to return to normal.
"I can't answer that question today because this virus is unforgiving - and the level of COVID infection in the country is no longer falling with the last two weeks.
"However today is a positive move forward in relation to those - the 30,000 people who live in nursing homes throughout our country.
"And for the first time since before Christmas, under general compassionate grounds, residents and their families will be able to have a meeting [of] two visits per week at a minimum of one hour per visit - it could be longer".
Minister Butler said certain measures have to be taken to keep infection rates down.
"The reason why we have to have a cautious approach [is] this day last month, we had 178 nursing homes with a significant COVID outbreak; today we have 68 nursing homes still with a COVID outbreak.
"So we have to take a cautious approach - but I suppose the new guidance recognises the positive impact of the vaccine rollout, which has resulted in the amount of COVID in nursing homes falling dramatically."