Level 5 restrictions could be in place until May with Ministers expecting almost no measures to ease next month.
The phased re-opening of schools is likely to be the only major easing of the current lockdown amid fears around the new COVID variants.
Public Health Officials were described as incredibly cautious last night by senior Ministers briefed on the re-opening of schools.
It's likely to start on March 1st with Leaving Cert students, along with junior and senior infants, but a final date hasn't been formally signed off.
Multiple Ministers admitted there's a good chance not all students will be back in classrooms by Easter.
Some classes will return at the start of March, and then others on a phased basis every two or three weeks out into April.
Construction wasn't formally discussed at last night's meeting - but a number of people present said they don't see NPHET giving it the go-ahead.
It's expected very few restrictions will ease in the short term, with Level 5 possibly lasting until May.
Pay supports like the pandemic unemployment payment and wage subsidy scheme will likely be extended until June, with no significant re-opening for many sectors before then.
The one ray of positive news at the meeting was from HSE boss Paul Reid and Vaccine Taskforce Chair Brian MacCraith that more than a million vaccinations a month could be happening from April.
Reporting by Sean Defoe