Tánaiste Leo Varadkar says he's expecting NPHET will recommend more COVID-19 restrictions later this week.
He says they'll likely include measures aimed at trying to decrease the amount of social mixing, as well as possible new measures around close contacts and revised rules on international travel.
Mr Varadkar was speaking after he and other Government leaders met with senior NPHET officials yesterday.
That meeting was described as 'routine', and took place ahead of a full NPHET meeting due to take place tomorrow.
While the most recent batch of restrictions - announced less than two weeks ago - cover the Christmas period and early January, Mr Varadkar stressed the situation is changing rapidly due to Omicron.
The Tánaiste said it's now expected that new strain could become dominant in Ireland by next week.
With that in mind, Mr Varadkar told The Pat Kenny Show he suspects NPHET will be making more recommendations in the lead up to Christmas.
He said: “I would expect more recommendations around the management of close contacts, recommendations to decrease the amount of social mixing, and also some recommendations around international travel.”
The Tánaiste said he's not going to speculate on the exact nature of any specific recommendations, such as whether there'd be earlier closing times for hospitality.
However, he stressed the WHO has "rightly" said that travel restrictions have limited benefit - especially since Omicron is now here.
He said the benefits of the current restrictions on travel - initially aimed at slowing the arrival of the variant - are 'not significant at the moment'.
'A few days notice'
Mr Varadkar told Pat he doesn’t like to see businesses being restricted or having to close.
However, he added: “If it is the case restrictions are required to protect life and public health… then that’s what we will do.”
He said they'll inform people 'very soon' about any new measures that may be in place before Christmas.
There's no Cabinet meeting currently planned for Friday, but the Tánaiste believes it will be important to give people clarity as quickly as possible - potentially before the weekend.
There'd also be a 'few days notice' before any new rules kick in.
Mr Varadkar said the picture is changing due to concerns around the impact of the Omicron variant, with officials yesterday suggesting it's now responsible for 14% of new cases.
He observed: “We’re winning the battle against the Delta… we’re doing better than the most optimistic models.
“But there is a new variant in the world… and that is likely to cause an additional wave of infection in the next couple of weeks."
The Tánaiste said the expectation is that the Omicron variant will likely be dominant in Ireland “as soon as next week… maybe even before Christmas”.