LEO VARADKAR has warned those planning Christmas homecomings not to book flights back to Ireland.
The Tánaiste said it was "too soon" to be planning for the festive season and that there was no telling what Covid-19 restrictions might look like in six weeks.
Speaking in the Dáil on Thursday, Varadkar said: "I know it's a tough message ... but we're not in the position at this point to advise people that it's safe to come home for Christmas.
"In terms of people booking flights for Christmas to come home, I advise them not to do that at the moment. I know that's difficult. I know that's a tough ask.
"Christmas is six weeks away, and it's too soon now, I think, for people to be booking flights to come home."
He warned that even as Ireland moves to a lower tier of restrictions in December, there will still be "embers of the virus" in the community, "and as we meet again those embers can be fanned."
Varadkar cited the 1967 outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in England, where Irish people were asked not to come home.
"They didn't come into Ireland, and I'm not saying it's the same, but certainly we're not in the position at this point to advise people that it's safe to come home for Christmas.
"I know that's a tough message to hear but that's the case for the short term," he added.
"International travel is a risk. I think we need to be upfront and honest about that."
Levels of Covid-19 are slowly dropping in Ireland, thanks undoubtedly to the implementation of a full lockdown last month - which is set to run to December 1.
But despite this - and the news of Pfizer's impending Covid vaccine - health officials have warned the Irish public not to lose focus and continue adhering to public health guidelines in order to crush the virus for good.