Coronavirus outbreaks in workplaces and colleges are causing concern, public health doctors in Ireland said.
More than 100 cases have been discovered at a university in Galway and a number of other people are awaiting test results.
Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said: “We simply cannot have that on a population level right now to continue to suppress the disease.”
Dr Glynn said it was too soon to make plans for people to see each other at Easter.
He said the focus was still on ensuring children could return to school.
He recognised that those who have received a vaccination, such as people in residential homes, deserved to see a route out of lockdown after such a long time confined.
There have been no new deaths reported to Ireland’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre on Monday.
As of midnight on Sunday, the health system had been notified of 821 confirmed cases of Covid-19.
Dr Lorraine Doherty, clinical director of health protection at the HSE, warned against sacrificing all the gains made during the weeks of extra restrictions.
“We are concerned about the rise in infections in third-level (education).”
They continued to deal with workplace outbreaks.
She said too many people were coming to work with symptoms and they were seeing infections in a range of workplaces.
Not enough attention has been paid to two-metre social distancing, people were mingling during breaks or popping around plastic screens to chat, she added.
Statement from the National Public Health Emergency Team— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) February 15, 2021
There have been no new deaths reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre @hpscireland today.
There has been a total of 3,948 #COVID19 related deaths in Ireland.
A number of outbreaks are being dealt with in meat plants.
The public health experts told a briefing: “There is simply too much disease in our communities still to advise people to be meeting up with one another.”
Dr Glynn said, with the commencement of vaccination of people aged over 85 in the community, today marks a significant milestone as we seek to protect the most vulnerable from this pandemic.
“It is an extraordinary testament to science that less than one year since our first case in Ireland, we are now in the process of rolling out three effective vaccines.
“The challenge now is to continue to suppress this disease so that as many people as possible can benefit from these vaccines over the coming months.”
As of Monday morning, the over-85s cohort began to receive their vaccines at selected GP practices.
Dr Sumi Dunne, GP, said: “The level of vaccine confidence and enthusiasm for vaccination in this group has been widely reported, along with a sense of relief as hope for a normal life returns.”