The cabinet is meeting to discuss a potential move to Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.
A ban on inter-county travel from St Stephen's Day is among the proposals as well as the closure of restaurants and pubs from Christmas Eve.
Last night, the Chief Medical Officer advised people to stay at home as much as they can and limit their contacts over the coming days to protect elderly and vulnerable relatives.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says the country is in a very serious situation.
"Our public health doctors, our infectious disease doctors, they're deeply concerned. They're deeply concerned about how quickly the virus has spread in the last two weeks and they're deeply concerned about the variant."
He says they will consider NPHET's recommendation of a move to a Level 5 lockdown.
The Northern Executive voted against banning travel between Britain and Northern Ireland last night.
Ministers there have advised against non-essential travel with Britain and the Republic.