The Government is not going to reintroduce coronavirus restrictions, unless it is backed by public health advice.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar was responding to calls from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).
Its General-Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha says the Government needs to reconsider its lifting of restrictions, in light of surging COVID-19 cases.
She says: "We have been ringing the alarm on this situation for far too long.
"We are not in a space in which our health service can cope with 570 patients on trolleys coupled with such high numbers of patients in our hospitals with COVID.
"The Government must now revisit their decision on mask-wearing in indoor and crowded settings.
"There is a clear link between reduced transmission and mask wearing.
"Removing the mask requirement in congregated settings, particularly with poor ventilation, is clearly having a detrimental impact in our hospitals."
Mr Varadkar says an increase in cases was expected.
"It's absolutely the case that we're seeing an increase in the number of people in hospital with COVID.
"What's somewhat reassuring is about half of the people who are in hospital with COVID - and ICU with COVID - would be there anyway.
"They're actually in because of other conditions".
'Curtail other activities'
He says the Government has no plans to reimpose measures.
"At the moment, there's no public health advice being given to us that we should reintroduce masks or reimpose restrictions in any way.
"So unless that comes, we're not going to do it - we don't anticipate it.
"It was always expected that when restrictions were eased that there would be an increase in infections.
"But that will fall off over the course of the next couple of weeks".
He says other procedures at hospitals may be curtailed because of rising infections.
"I think what the INMO is saying, which is correct, is that it is putting a lot of pressure on our hospitals.
"And that may mean having to curtail some other activities, and that's unfortunate, but that's something we have had to do in March before because of the flu season and we may have to do it now because of COVID.
"But we don't have any plans to reimpose restrictions".