Ireland's health chiefs are recommending the country enters a second nationwide lockdown for four weeks in a surprise move cabinet will discuss on Monday.
Ireland's National Public Health Emergency Team on Sunday urged a leap to the highest level of COVID-19 restrictions, Level 5 from current Level 2 controls in 24 of Ireland's 26 counties and stricter Level 3 measures in Dublin and Donegal.
The government has almost entirely adopted their health chiefs' advice throughout the pandemic but sources say a return to lockdown would have serious economic and societal impact.
Prime Minister Micheal Martin and the leaders of his two coalition partners will meet the country's chief medical officer on Monday ahead of a cabinet meeting.
Under level 5, people are asked to stay at home, except to exercise within 5 kilometres, with only essential retailers allowed to stay open. Unlike the first lockdown, schools and creches would not have to close.
Like most of Europe, Ireland has seen a steady infections increase since the end of July after emerging slowly from one of Europe's most severe shutdowns.
It reported the highest number of daily cases since late April on Saturday.
However Ireland's 14-day cumulative case total of 104.6 per 100,000 people represents only the 14th-highest infection rate of 31 European countries monitored by the European Centre for Disease Control.
Europe's worst infection hotspot Spain has an infection rate three-times higher than Ireland and while it severely tightened confinement measures in hard-hit Madrid on Friday, restaurants, gyms and shops can still open at limited capacity.
Ireland has a relatively low hospital bed capacity compared to other European countries.
The number of hospitalised COVID-19 patients has risen steadily to 132 but peaked at 881 in April during the first lockdown.