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Government Agrees on Phased Re-Opening of Hospitality

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The long-awaited and much-delayed re-opening of hospitality to allow indoor dining and drinking has finally been sanctioned by the government – even if a specific date hasn’t yet been set.

The government announced yesterday, 12 July, that restrictions on indoor restaurant and bar services will be lifted for those that are fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19, upon presentation of “verifiable evidence of vaccination or immunity status.”

The restrictions were meant to be lifted on 5 July, and while no specific date has been set there is broad speculation that the new date is 23 July.

Pub, restaurant and café operators and hotels will be required to comply with the Government’s Work Safely protocol for the protection of workers and public health, social distancing. Detailed operational guidelines for reopening will be published by Fáilte Ireland in the coming days.

re-opening of hospitality in Ireland

The ‘Wine Cert’

The Government’s new EU Digital Covid Certificates (DCC), which are being rolled out this week and will be fully implemented from next Monday, 19 July, are the most obvious evidence of vaccination status.

The DCC has been developed to facilitate safe international travel, but their use in a domestic setting has led some to dub them the ‘wine cert.’

For visitors to Ireland outside the EU, including the US, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, a nationally certified equivalent can be used for the purposes of verifying the vaccination or immunity status of such persons, in line with agreed Government policy on international travel.

Under-18s

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

Antigen Testing a Possibility

Although Ireland remains one of the few countries not to accept antigen testing as proof of Covid status, the government has to give further consideration to the use of PCR and rapid antigen testing in further phases of lifting of restrictions.

The Government’s new Expert Advisory Group on Rapid Testing, Chaired by Professor Mary Horgan will be asked to provide appropriate guidance.

Irish Hoteliers Relieved

The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has welcomed the government’s decision.

Tim Fenn, Chief Executive of the IHF, said: “One of our key priorities now is the opening up of safe international travel and yesterday’s announcement is a key part of that. We therefore welcome the Government’s decision to recognise equivalent proof of vaccination for visitors from Britain and the US, two of our key overseas markets.”

Mr Fenn also welcomed the news that children will be exempt from the requirement to be vaccinated.  “Yesterday’s announcement was an important milestone in the reopening of society and the economy and in the recovery of Ireland’s tourism and hospitality industry,” he said.

“Public health remains the number one priority of hotels and guesthouses across the country and our members are firmly committed to the implementation of safety guidelines and protocols, which cover every aspect of our operations and facilities.

“Since the outset of the pandemic, the implementation of Government safety measures has proved highly effective, helped by the strong support of our teams and co-operation of guests. Hotels have existing processes in place around the safety of indoor hospitality and now look forward to extending a warm welcome to non-residents in line with revised restrictions,” Mr Fenn added.

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