A leading doctor has spoken of his shock that St Patrick's Day parties are being organised two months in advance - and issued a stark warning against mass gatherings of any kind.
People are already arranging events online ahead of the March 17 holiday.
One advertised on social media is encouraging revellers to meet up at "Wetherspoon's Bridge House" at Bedford Street in Belfast city centre.
Although the so-called "St Patrick's Party Nite" has already attracted numerous responses from would-be attendees, JD Wetherspoon's Northern Ireland-born owner Tim Martin told the Belfast Telegraph that he had no idea that a party was being planned at his Belfast pub.
There is no suggestion Wetherspoon's are involved in organising the event, or even had knowledge it is planned.
However, following stark warnings for people not to hold New Year's Eve parties, fears are now growing around St Patrick's Day festivities.
Dr Alan Stout, Northern Ireland's BMA GP committee chair, said any attempts to plan March 17 gatherings are a very worrying development.
"I'm extremely concerned that people are planning any kind of party," he said. "It's far too early to be organising anything like that.
"The next two weeks in hospitals are going to be the worst we've ever seen in Northern Ireland so it concerns me that this is happening."
Dr Stout said that while there is some good news currently in terms of a drop in the infection rate, the situation "is continuing to be really difficult".
"We must learn from the past; the infection spreads by contact so we have to minimise contact," he added.
The east Belfast-based GP also warned that it would be wrong to put the 'cart before the horse'.
"It's too soon to think about parties when we're still in lockdown," Dr Stout said.
"We're vaccinating people really quickly and that will put us in a good position but let's get this virus under control before we ease restrictions too quickly."
Earlier this week, First Minister Arlene Foster said she found it incredible that house parties were still taking place.
Meanwhile, Belfast City Council has cancelled its traditional St Patrick's Day celebration, which normally attracts thousands of people, for a second consecutive year as a result of Covid.
Alliance health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw said it was "horrifying" to learn parties were being organised. She said: "Now is not the time for anyone to be planning St Patrick's Day parties.
"I hope the council and police will take immediate steps to clamp down on this. The vaccination programme is underway but we're not out of the woods yet. It's incredibly selfish that people are already planning parties.
"Do they still not realise that there's a direct link from a party to hospital intensive care units where exhausted doctors and nurses are treating numerous very ill Covid patients?"
Pam Cameron, the vice-chair of the Health Committee, said: "It is highly irresponsible for anyone to organise a large St Patrick's day gathering at this time."
Mr Martin said he had no knowledge that there were plans to have a party at his popular Belfast hostelry on March 17.
"I admire the organiser's enterprise and his faith that we will be out of lockdown by then," he said.
"I'd also like him to make sure that he gives me an invite if restrictions are lifted and this event does indeed go ahead."