Pubs and restaurants will be forced to shut at 5pm from next week under the latest advice from NPHET.
The health officials last night advised Government to introduce the new closing times in response to the Omicron variant.
They also called for all indoor sporting and cultural events to take place before 5pm and be capped at 50% capacity.
Outdoor events would be capped at 50% or 5,000 people under the proposals.
NPHET has not recommended the early closure of schools for Christmas, or further limits on household visits.
There are expected to be some changes around close contacts – with those who have yet to receive their booster to be asked to restrict their movements.
It is believed the strength of the proposed restrictions came as a surprise to many in Government.
The Vintners' Federation of Ireland CEO Padraig Cribben told Newstalk it is devastating for Irish hospitality.
“This is an absolute bombshell that nobody had anticipated,” he said. “in essence, it is the equivalent of full closure for most businesses.
“95% of the business is done post-5pm in most outlets. There are many outlets around the country that don’t open until late afternoon.”
He said the recommendations are “closure by another name, if Government were to implement them”.
“If they do implement them, they have got to act like it is full closure and put the necessary supports in place,” he said.
Despite the ongoing concern over the Omicron variant and the continuing high numbers of cases, hospitalisation and ICU figures have been steadily falling in recent days.
Yesterday morning, there were 443 COVID patients in Irish hospitals – down 16.5% on the same day last week and the lowest number reported since mid-October.
There were 108 in ICU, which was seven fewer than last week.
Cabinet ministers will consider the recommendations today.