The hospitality sector is in a "very dark place" as 2022 approaches, publicans have warned.
The Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) says pubs have seen "basically all" Christmas parties and events cancelled - seasonal business that typically helps support the sector ahead of the quieter months of January and February.
Hospitality businesses such as late bars and nightclubs have to close at midnight under current COVID restrictions.
However, it's thought NPHET is now recommending extra restrictions for the sector - including new limits on opening hours, banning multiple table bookings and reducing the numbers permitted at a table to six.
Ministers will need to decide over the coming days whether to implement the recommendations.
It comes as the sector is set to meet with the Taoiseach and Public Expenditure Minister this morning, amid growing calls from hospitality businesses for extra financial supports.
On Newstalk Breakfast, Padraig Cribben - VFI Chief Executive - says cuts to the Employers Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) were agreed at a time when the outlook was better.
He said: "On Budget Day back in October… the Government announced a phasing out of the EWSS, which was based on a premise at the time that every business would be open fully on October 22nd. We know October 22nd didn’t happen.
“We were in a very serious situation before the NPHET meeting yesterday. December is a month where publicans, restauranteurs and hotels create a certain buffer to get them through the months of January and February.
"That won’t happen this year - we’ve basically seen all Christmas parties and events cancelled, and we’re facing into a very barren Christmas for both publicans and their employees."
Following media reports this morning around NPHET's latest recommendations, Mr Cribben said the industry's now in a "very concerning" situation.
He said the sector's concerned it's being used to "send a message" around the COVID-19 situation.
He said: "In mid-October, there was a lot of enthusiasm and there was light at the end of the tunnel. We’re now in a very, very dark tunnel.
“There will be significant supports needed, or there will be a lot of businesses who will not survive the barren months of January and February 2022."