Halloween celebrations have been blamed for the faltering progress in reducing Covid-19 cases in Ireland, an infectious diseases expert has said.
Professor Sam McConkey said the increased rate of infection levels in the past week appeared to be linked to people partying over Halloween.
He also said there are 100 outbreaks a day, and unless infections return to very low levels it is hard to see indoor dining venues and wet pubs reopening.
Members of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) met yesterday to discuss the country's exit from Level 5 restrictions.
The six-week lockdown is due to end on December 1.
"There's some suggestion over Halloween there was essentially more socialising and partying than we had before," Prof McConkey told RTE's Morning Ireland.
"The optimist in me hopes that things will improve next week and the week after because we're now back to normal life.
"The numbers may go down to half, maybe 100 to 200 cases a day by the beginning of December.
"The challenge will be keeping it there, keeping it down. That's a really important challenge. None of us wants that going up and down."
Prof McConkey said moving to Level 3 restrictions from next month, with indoor dining and pubs remaining closed, might keep cases "somewhat level".
It would also be "possible to open retail in a safe way", but hospitality represented a "real challenge".
"It seems to me if we go down to Level 2, that hasn't controlled things in the past," Prof McConkey said.
"If we do the same Level 3 as we've done in the past, it's a temporary way of keeping things level."