The 48-hour travel ban on passengers from Britain is likely to be extended, the Transport Minister has said.
Eamon Ryan said he can't give people 'false hope' that there'll be a major change to the situation before Christmas.
The ban on flights and passenger ferries has been implemented in response to the rapid spread of a new strain of COVID-19 in parts of England
It means Irish people living in the UK that were due to come home for Christmas will now not be able to do so.
Minister Ryan told Newstalk Breakfast the 48-hour ban was brought in to buy the Government some time.
He said: "It is likely to be extended.
"Like a number of European countries, we decided to put in a 48-hour ban first of all to see how it works.
"I'm afraid I can't give anyone any false hope that there's likely to be a major change to that after the first 48 hours... it is just to give us time to assess all the options."
Freight and repatriation
Minister Ryan said haulage drivers stuck in the UK or France due to freight delays will be able to come back to Ireland.
He explained: "I don't think anyone will be sitting and waiting [in UK ports] - we wouldn't want them sitting and waiting.
"We've managed to keep the supply chains opened throughout COVID in a way that makes sure we have food on our table... but also the level of incidence [among drivers] has been very low."
He also said officials with expertise on repatriating Irish people in Britain have already 'swung into action'.
He said: "We are still going to keep flights leaving Ireland into the UK - there are English and British people who need to get home.
"We want to manage any passenger in transit - say using Heathrow or Gatwick... on a transit basis... to reach their final destination.
"We expect the numbers to be low, but at the same time we don't want to leave people - particularly in hardship cases - stranded."
In terms of those who were set to travel to Britain on compassionate or essential grounds, Minister Ryan said they should not go - saying even in south-west England people are now being urged to stay at home.
Northern Irish ministers are meeting today to continue discussions on whether they can introduce a ban on flights from Britain.
Minister Ryan said it's up to the Executive to make that call, but the Irish Government "can't and won't" be introducing border controls on the island.
However, he stressed efforts are underway to ensure co-ordination between North and South to the ongoing situation.