The Cabinet will tomorrow consider a proposal that would advise parents to reduce their children's social interaction outside school.

It means that indoor community events for children will not be prohibited.

One source tonight said it could mean that a playdate might be an option or a trip to the panto, but not both.

Mask wearing for nine-year-olds in school, shops and public transport will also be among the recommendations going to Cabinet.

There will also be proposals around international travel, with an antigen test set to be required by all people arriving in Ireland.

This would need to be completed a maximum of 72 hours before arriving in the country.

Government sources have said that the antigen test system will be professionally administered.

The Cabinet will also examine legislation that would allow for the re-introduction of mandatory hotel quarantine.

The measures follow an extensive meeting between the Government party leaders and public health officials this evening.

It comes after the Government said that 11 positive tests for Covid-19 are being further examined to see whether or not they are the new coronavirus variant, Omicron.

NPHET has been assessing the latest data on the virus and developments across Europe in recent days.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly earlier said it is likely that the new coronavirus variant is in Ireland.

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"I think it is likely at this point that we will be identifying cases here in the coming days," he told RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne.

He said officials were focusing strongly and urgently on the new variant.

The scientific community is investigating if the new variant is more transmissible, more severe and what impact the vaccine might have on it, he added.

There is a big question mark over this new variant, the minister said, and so there is no government right now that can predict what measures might be in place at Christmas.

He also indicated that Government will not now be subsidising antigen tests because the market has already reduced the prices to more affordable levels.

Minister Donnelly said that "at this point" no major changes are being proposed in terms of Covid-19 restrictions.

He said that the recommendations are based on a wide number of things and there has been a stabilisation of hospital numbers of the last two and a half weeks.

If the country was not dealing with the new Omicron variant, he said, there would have been cause for cautious optimism.

The minister said it is likely that the variant is in Ireland and that a number of suspect cases with the 'S gene dropout' are being sequenced, and it is a reasonable assumption that any variant, other than Delta, is a case of Omicron.

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Minister Donnelly said that he and the Chief Medical Officer are talking "every few hours", and that Dr Tony Holohan is very concerned about the new variant.

He said that measures are being put in place on a precautionary basis and now everyone needs to wait for definitive scientific evidence about the severity of the new variant and its transmissibility.

It is essential that everyone continues to follow public health measures that are having a positive effect, he said.

Strict measures have been put in place for anyone who has visited seven African countries in the past 14 days. Those countries are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

He added that anyone living in the same household as somebody who has returned from one of the designated African countries must also quarantine at home for 10 days.

People who arrive back from one of the designated African countries are required to take a PCR test on day two and day eight of their ten-day home quarantine period.

Gardaí will help police mandatory home quarantine and it would be possible to do because the numbers are quite low. He added no decision has been taken for reactivating mandatory hotel quarantine, but legislation will be brought through the Oireachtas to ensure it is ready if needed.

The minister said he expected that further countries will be added to the list for mandatory quarantine.

The Health Service Executive is going back through the passenger locator forms of people who have recently arrived back from designated countries.

Minister Donnelly said that if positive cases are discovered, enhanced contact tracing and sequencing will be carried out.

He added that he would await the advice of the Chief Medical Officer with regards to a requirement all people arriving in Ireland to take a PCR test.

He said that there are a lot of unknowns about the latest variant, but while Government is waiting for answers from the scientific community it is taking measures to keep people safe and slow down the spread of this variant.

In relation to booster shots, he said the HSE is scheduling shots for healthcare workers and the over 60s this week.

Mr Donnelly said the most at risk groups are being prioritised and that people cannot simply walk into a vaccination centre seeking a booster shot if five months has lapsed since their last shot.

Healthcare workers and people aged over 60 can walk in for a shot, he said, but no one else.

Anyone over 70 should be able to get their shot from their GP, he added.

The build-up to today's meeting between the coalition leaders and Dr Holohan was marked by appeals for people to continue to abide by public health advice.

In a statement last night, the CMO remarked that while there is much attention on new variants, the Delta variant remains too high, with widespread infection in the community.

People know the action they must take, he said.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said it will take two to three weeks before it is known what this new variant of concern can do, so he asked people to double down on the existing public health measures.