The Taoiseach has told his party colleagues that people will be able to have an enjoyable, safe and meaningful Christmas.

Micheál Martin said that Government will make a decision next week on how the country will exit Level 5 restrictions in early December.

He told the Fianna Fail parliamentary party that it will be about trusting people to stay safe over the Christmas period.

The easing of restrictions is set to be debated in the Dáil on Tuesday before Government makes a decision later in the week.

Mr Martin suggested the decision-making process will not be easy but said the country would exit the restrictions as the third best in Europe when it came to tackling Covid-19.

Earlier the meeting heard calls from Deputy Barry Cowen that there should be immediate consultation with the hospitality sector.

He said this could focus on drafting new guidelines, if they were necessary, to allow for customers eat and drink indoors.

However, he said it was too early to make a decision on reopening at this stage.

At a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party Minister Simon Harris said it was vital that as many additional people as possible were hired to carry out contact tracing.

He said there had been a lot of great support from the army in the past and he asked if it might provide assistance again.

The meeting heard criticism of the moving of frontline health workers to contact tracing duties.

Elsewhere, in the Dáil, Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy said the proposal this week to fine people who gathered to drink outdoors ran the risk of forcing them into more dangerous indoor environments.

He said that knee-jerk reactions should be avoided.