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People will have to 'buy into' compliance with new indoor dining rules, Taoiseach says

Opposition parties will also be briefed on the plans, which they have described as discriminatory.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin
Taoiseach Micheál Martin
Image: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

Updated Jul 13th 2021, 9:34 AM

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said compliance with the new rules around indoor dining is something the public will have to “buy into”. 

Martin’s comments come ahead of talks between government officials and representatives from the hospitality industry today to finalise plans for reopening indoor dining.

Opposition politicians will also be briefed about the policy today. Parties including Sinn Féin, Labour, and the Social Democrats have raised concerns that the exclusion of unvaccinated people from indoor dining is discriminatory.

The cabinet yesterday signed off on a phased approach which will see indoor hospitality return, initially to people who can produce verifiable evidence of vaccination or immunity from Covid-19.

The Taoiseach this morning said: “We want to get the balance right between managing to suppress the virus and getting jobs in the economy back going again. 

“Compliance is something that we all have to buy into. Government has to create a framework that’s sensible in terms of a compliance framework and compliance officers working with industry ensure that this is done in a compliant way.” 

When asked if inspectors of indoor dining will be working 9-5pm hours, Martin said he thinks people will comply with the new rules. 

“I remember when I brought in the smoking ban. I had the exact same questions. And that’s what I mean by compliance,” he said. 

The Taoiseach added he thinks people “understand the rationale and the motivation” behind the new rules. 

“I think people will comply with this,” he said. 

Adrian Cummins of the Restaurants Association said it is the first time, over the course of the pandemic, that the hospitality sector is “at the frontline” developing public health guidelines directly with officials.

The chief executive of the lobby group heralded the development as “progress”. 

Legislation agreed by the Cabinet yesterday will allow people aged under 18, who are accompanied by a vaccinated or recovered parent or guardian, access to indoor dining – as a result, social distancing measures will be in place.  

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Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Martin said the decision to allow children under the age of 18 into pubs and restaurants with a fully vaccinated parent/guardian was not part of public health advice by NPHET.

“They will be part of a family bubble,” he said.

Unvaccinated hospitality workers will also be permitted to have a drink or meal in their place of work.

The EU Digital Green Certificate will be used as an indoor dining pass, however, the use of other medical documentation is still under consideration.

The legislation is aimed to be passed by the Dáil this week and to come into force next week, or by 26 July at the very latest.

Detailed operational guidelines are set to be published by Fáilte Ireland in the coming days, with a strong emphasis on effective ventilation expected.  

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

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