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Cheers to that More than two million fully-vaccinated people to enjoy indoor dining ‘from next week’

They must show proof of full vaccination – or recovery from Covid – at door

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said pharmacies may soon offer antigen tests so those with negative results dine indoors. Photo: Julien Behal

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said pharmacies may soon offer antigen tests so those with negative results dine indoors. Photo: Julien Behal

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said pharmacies may soon offer antigen tests so those with negative results dine indoors. Photo: Julien Behal

More than two million people who have been fully vaccinated will be able to eat and drink indoors under new legislation agreed by the Cabinet.

From next week people entering restaurants, pubs and cafes will be asked to present proof they have been fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months along with personal identification.

The Government is aiming to have the new system in place by July 23, a Friday, but this is dependent on the legislation passing through the Oireachtas in the coming days and being signed off on by President Michael D Higgins early next week.

Gardaí will not be monitoring businesses to ensure only vaccinated or immune people are dining indoors. Instead HSE environmental officers and Health and Safety Authority officials will carry out spot checks.

Yesterday Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said there will be no “excessive enforcement” of the new system and instead the public will be mostly trusted to comply with the new public health rules.

He also revealed pharmacies may soon offer antigen tests to allow those who receive negative results dine inside.

Mr Varadkar and Tourism Minister Catherine Martin admitted the new system would not be “100pc foolproof”.

Both conceded forgery happens even in normal circumstances such as young people pretending to be 18.

But Ms Martin said the alternative was to leave pubs and restaurants closed until September or October.

However, the new legislation will carry a €2,000 fine and/or a month in prison for anyone found to have forged medical documentation to show they are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19.

Mr Varadkar said he had “enormous confidence that this very professional industry” would self-regulate, pointing out it had complied in the past with the smoking ban.

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He said of people passing themselves off as others who are vaccinated: “I would hope that sort of behaviour would be very rare.”

Under the new legislation people can use the new EU Digital Covid Certificates for international travel to show they are fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months.

Other medical documentation can also be used but the details are still being discussed.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes will not retain any information on customers once they can show proof of immunisation or vaccination.

Visitors to Ireland outside the EU, including the US, Britain and Northern Ireland can access indoor dining with proof of vaccination or immunity from their own countries.

Children under 18 accompanied by a vaccinated or recovered parent or guardian can also be admitted for indoor services.

Social distancing measures will remain in place for hotels as non-vaccinated residents will be mixing with vaccinated non-residents.

New guidelines on social distancing for pubs, restaurants and cafes are being drafted by Fáilte Ireland to take into account the new system for vaccinated customers.

Restaurant Association of Ireland chief executive Adrian Cummins welcomed what he described as “giant leap towards reopening hospitality businesses safely, viably and sustainably”.

However Opposition TDs have raised concerns about the new system being discriminatory towards unvaccinated people and are seeking a briefing on the new legislation.

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