Following a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Micheal Martin announced Ireland would move its restrictions from Level 2 to Level 3 – with new measures including a ban on all restaurants inside.
The move, which will take effect from midnight tomorrow, will last at least three weeks.
It comes despite a call from the country’s National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to move the country to Level 5 – a second national lockdown.
Mr Martin said: “Businesses are starting to recover and vital public health services are still lagging behind.
“Severe restrictions would now have a very damaging impact from which these services and businesses may not be able to recover.
“We have decided, at this point, not to move to a more comprehensive lockdown. ”
Sunday’s NPHET recommendation came just three days after the group told ministers the current restrictions – at Level 2 – were appropriate for most of the country.
Ireland will remain at level 3 until October 27, which means social and family gatherings and indoor gatherings will be prohibited except for funerals and weddings.
:: Subscribe to Sky News podcasts on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
People will be encouraged to stay in their county and work from home unless it is absolutely unavoidable, while schools and other educational institutions should remain open.
Shops, outdoor playgrounds, playgrounds and parks can remain open, as can hairdressers, beauticians, barbers, opticians provided that the rules relating to protective measures are respected.
Hotels, pensions and bed and breakfasts can remain open, but with limited services to residents.
Restaurants and cafes, including bars, food serving pubs or wet pubs (those that do not serve food) may remain open for take out and delivery and outdoor dining / service until to an absolute maximum of 15 people.
Dublin’s wet pubs remain closed, along with all of Ireland’s museums, galleries, cinemas and other cultural attractions.
At level 5, people would have been asked to stay home except for exercise within a 5 km radius and only essential retailers would be allowed to stay open.
Ireland reported the highest number of new daily infections since late April on Saturday, but its 14-day cumulative case total is 104 per 100,000 people.
This places the country 14th in terms of infection rate among 31 European countries monitored by the European Center for Disease Control.
But one of the health officials who advised on a lockdown said Ireland’s limited hospital capacity meant it could run out of intensive care beds by early November if the current trajectory of COVID cases- 19 continued.
Ireland has recorded 1,810 deaths among 38,549 people who have caught coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University, which tracks the pandemic.