The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said "it’s likely" that the new Covid variant is in Ireland.
Speaking on the national broadcaster today the Minister stated "I think it is likely at this point that we will be identifying cases here in the coming days.”
He said officials were focusing strongly and urgently on the new variant.
The scientific community is investigating if the new variant is more transmissible, more severe and what impact the vaccine might have on it, he added.
There is a big question mark over this new variant, the minister said, and so there is no government right now that can predict what measures might be in place at Christmas.
He also indicated that Government will not now be subsidising antigen tests because the market has already reduced the prices to more affordable levels.
Pantos can go ahead this year, but the Health Minister said children shouldn't attend.
Visiting Santa is allowed, however, the Minister confirmed.
These comments have led to much confusion among the industry preparing to take to the stage in a matter of days.
Panto producer Alan Hughes says he's baffled by the latest update: