Chambers Ireland has called for "intensified compliance efforts" by businesses across the country over the next fortnight aimed at containing coronavirus infections.

The organisation says the approach is needed to reduce the R number in time for firms to re-open in December and avoid more permanent job losses.

"We urge the wider business community to continue to interpret the restrictions conservatively and ensure that any unnecessary congregation is reduced," said Ian Talbot, chief executive of Chambers Ireland.

"If staff can work from home, then that is the only place they should be working from. Employers must continue to do what they can to both encourage and support their employees to work remotely."

The call comes after health experts said that the effectiveness of the battle against the spread of Covid-19 is being weakened by the decision of some people choosing to work in the office when they could just as easily work from home.

The reduction in the incidence of the virus has stalled in recent days, four weeks into a six week period of Level 5 restrictions.

An online meeting of the CEOs of the individual chambers across the country has discussed the issue.

Chambers has also asked the wider community to reduce their movements, limit social contacts and think local.

"The Christmas season is essential for local economies and for societal well-being," Mr Talbot said.

"Without this opportunity to trade, many businesses will struggle to re-open at all, leaving our high streets and town centres all the poorer and jobs permanently lost. Irish people have rallied behind the "shop local" message," he added.

The Government has said that it plans to finalise a reopening strategy for the economy and society by the end of next week.

Chambers Ireland said it awaits this decision but is concerned at the lack of an exit strategy that would avoid recurrent waves of opening and closing the economy.

The body also said it would welcome early engagement and collaboration with Chambers across the country to suitably prepare businesses for resuming trading.