By Cate McCurry, PA
President Michael D Higgins has signed the legislation that will pave the way for the reopening of indoor hospitality in Ireland.
The President signed the Health (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2021, meaning that people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months can dine indoors.
It comes as Cabinet also agreed that indoor dining can resume on Monday.
Having considered the Health (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2021, the President has signed the Bill and it has accordingly become law.
— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) July 21, 2021
Ministers also discussed the new guidelines that will be central to the reopening of indoor hospitality.
The new guidelines will see an end to time limits for eating inside bars and restaurants in Ireland.
A digital Covid certificate checker is being developed by the Government for businesses and customers in order to check valid certificates.
While it is expected that set time limits for dining will be removed from the guidelines on the basis of public health advice, an 11.30pm closing time will remain but will be reviewed.
‘Day of hope’
Adrian Cummins, from the Restaurants Association of Ireland, said the body welcomed the decision to reopen on Monday, July 26th.
“This day will be a ‘day of hope’ for 20,000 hospitality businesses including restaurants, pubs and cafes across the state, and give 180,000 workers the opportunity to return to work,” Mr Cummins said.
“We are now calling on Government to immediately publish the reopening guidelines in order to advise businesses, employees and customers what will be required to reopen safely and securely.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he had met with deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn on Tuesday to discuss updated modelling around Covid-19.
“I have to say, every setting now carries a risk with it in context of the Delta variant itself and its transmissibility,” Mr Martin said.
“All of us individually have to redouble our efforts in terms of vigilance, in terms of the basics we learned at the outset of the pandemic.
“Social distancing is important, wearing masks is important and just being very careful when in crowds.
“That will make it absolutely vital that people adhere to regulations and to guidelines in respect of indoor settings or outdoor settings.
“The vaccination programme is rolling out very effectively and very good progress is being made on that front.”
New pandemic phase
It comes as all adults over the age of 18 can now register for an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine from Wednesday morning.
Mr Martin urged the public to remain vigilant over the coming weeks.
“The Delta variant is going to increase the case numbers. We need to keep that to a minimum and we will be closely monitoring the impact of that rise in the numbers we are already experiencing,” he added.
He said the app that would be used to admit people inside bars and restaurants would be discussed at Cabinet.
#COVIDVaccine registration is open for people aged 18-24. You’ll need a:
✉️email address to register.
Register here ➡️ https://t.co/nTNxEJWWWr
— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) July 21, 2021
Mr Martin added: “We are entering a new phase of Covid-19 regarding the Delta variant.
“We will look at the next phase in health in terms of a winter initiative. We had a very effective initiative programme last year which stood us well.
“We will be planning ahead over the coming weeks. Our testing and tracing is in surge. We are looking at antigen testing supporting the PCR testing.”
He warned that plans could be “undermined” by the Delta variant.