The Cabinet has agreed a ban on all household visits from midnight tomorrow, for four weeks, except on compassionate grounds and for essential reasons, such as childcare.

This ban on visits includes homes and gardens, but up to six people from two households can meet in other outdoor settings while maintaining physical distancing as part of the enhanced Level 3 restrictions.

Government ministers have also decided to move Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan to Level 4 Covid-19 restrictions for a four-week period from midnight tomorrow.

The other border counties, Louth and Leitrim, are to remain at Level 3.

The decisions have been taken following the introduction of further restrictions in Northern Ireland where pubs and restaurants will close for four weeks, with the exception of takeaways and deliveries.

Schools in Northern Ireland will also shut for two weeks in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said "the picture emerging in Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan is very worrying" and the implications for hospitals and public health are "obvious".

Speaking at a Government briefing this evening, Mr Martin said the measures being introduced in the three counties include the ban on visitors to homes, as well as the closure of non-essential retail, gyms, pools and leisure centres, and restrictions on hotels and bed and breakfasts.

All but essential workers are being told to work from home, but construction, manufacturing, agriculture and fishing can continue with proper protections in place.

Just six people will be able to attend a wedding in the three counties, but this measure will not come into effect until next Monday.

The exemption for club championships is being ended and sporting bodies can only continue training where protective measures are in place.

The Taoiseach said the enhanced Level 3 measures were being introduced because the evidence showed that the virus is "spreading significantly" in households.

Mr Martin said we must minimise engagement with other people as "human behaviour is what will deter this virus more than anything else".

He said he did not think that people should not knock on doors on Halloween and that people have to adapt their behaviour due to the virus.

The Taoiseach also said he believed that we could have a "good and enjoyable Christmas", but people would have to adapt their behaviour because "these are not normal times and our behavior must reflect that".

"Until we get a vaccine normal life as we knew it will not resume … The sooner we do what is needed we can looks forward to....a better life overall," he said.

This evening, the Department of Health was notified of 1,095 new coronavirus cases and five further virus-related deaths.

This brings the death toll here to 1,835 with 45,243 confirmed cases.

Cavan has the highest 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 in the country at 571, followed by Monaghan (360), Donegal (353.7), Clare (307.2) and Meath (299.9).

Counties with the lowest rate of cases include Waterford (69.7), Wicklow (77.2), Carlow (80.8), Tipperary (82.7) and Mayo (89.7).

The Taoiseach said that people in Ireland "will make it through this pandemic if we continue to adhere to the rules and we all work together".

Asked about the chances of the entire country being moved to Level 4, Mr Martin said the situation will be monitored very closely in the coming days.

"When we moved to Level 3 last week, over 20,000 people went on to PUP (Pandemic Unemployment Payment) so it does have a severe economic impact," he said.

But Mr Martin said he did not regret not taking the National Public Health Emergency Teams's recommendation earlier this month to move to Level 5 because, saying "we weren't ready for Level 5".

He said some of the schemes introduced in the Budget allowed for the further restrictions to be put in place in some counties.

Mr Martin said the Government will be enhancing communication about restrictions in a number of sectors and the need for people to wear masks instead of visors.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said it was clear that transmission of Covid-19 iwa occurring in people's homes.

"It is not just house parties, it is smaller gatherings, family dinners, a few friends over for a drink or a cup of coffee. All those things have to stop because if they do not stop, the virus cannot be stopped," he said.

Mr Varadkar said the ban on household visits "does not mean being alone" and people can still meet others in outdoor settings.

He said he knew the restrictions "will be particularly hard for those living alone".

Arguing against complacency in counties that remain at Level 3, Mr Varadkar said: "It's likely that more counties will move to Level 4 than the reverse happening."

He said the list of essential retailers for the counties under Level 4 restrictions will be published tonight and will include certain retailers and personal services.

Mr Varadkar also said that people should work from home if they can as "there's been a slow drift back to the offices and that has to stop".

Interactive map: Covid-19 cases in your area

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said the situation can change if the number of cases of the virus is reduced.

He said: "If everybody only meets outdoors, has not visitors to their home, then we cut the chance of the virus spreading and the fine line between the virus growing and shrinking may go the right way.

"We have seen this happening in Laois, Kildare and Offaly."

At a glance: What does Level 4 mean?
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In a tweet tonight, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said it was a worrying time as the restrictions were increased.

The Chief Medical Officer has described the Covid-19 situation as "extremely concerning".

Dr Tony Holohan said: "Today, we again report a daily new confirmed case figure over 1,000. This situation is extremely concerning. Every single one of us has a role to play.

"We each need to reduce contact with other people as much as possible, so that means staying at home, working from home where possible, practising physical distancing and stopping discretionary socialising."

Earlier, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly firmly ruled out a move to close schools in the Republic as has been done in Northern Ireland.

He said: "I am in favour of keeping the schools open.

"I received a comprehensive report about a week ago looking at the positivity rates in schools compared to the community.

"The information I'm being given is that the schools are safe, within the context of a world where we have 

"The positivity rates in the schools is about 1.9%, it's now above 6% in the community.

"We've seen right across the world, low transmission rates within children, and low transmission rates between children and teachers as well which is very positive."

Additional reporting Paul Cunningham, Mary Regan, Samantha Libreri