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Indoor dining

Taoiseach says 'there's an obligation' on everyone to follow indoor dining rules ahead of Monday's reopening

A government statement said good indoor ventilation is “essential”.

LAST UPDATE | 21 Jul 2021

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has confirmed that indoor hospitality in pubs and restaurants will resume for fully vaccinated and Covid-recovered people on Monday 26 July.

President Michael D Higgins earlier signed the Health Amendment No 2 Bill, paving the way for the reopening. The bill was passed in both the Dáil and the Seanad before being signed into law by the president today. 

The final guidelines for indoor dining were agreed between government officials, publicans and restaurateurs yesterday

The industry guidelines will be published in the coming days before government regulations underpinning the new laws are then published before Monday. 

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said there will be a maximum of six people per table and people will be required to wear a mask when they are walking around in pubs and restaurants.

There will be no time limits on how long you can dine for, but the 11.30pm closing time is set to remain, with a review expected in the future. 

The government released a statement this evening to say it “continues to follow its plan to review and monitor the control of the virus and follow the prevailing public health advice in support of, and to protect, a safe and gradual reopening”. 

“The incidence of the Delta variant in Ireland poses a significant risk, particularly to those who are not yet fully vaccinated,” the statement said. 

Government urges people and businesses to exercise caution and to redouble their efforts in practicing the basic measures that continue to provide protection against Covid-19 – everyone should choose outdoor activities ahead of indoors, particularly those who are unvaccinated.

“It is important to practice all good public health behaviours – social distancing, handwashing and respiratory etiquette. If indoors, good ventilation is essential – poorly ventilated or crowded indoor locations should be avoided.”

A Digital Covid Certificate QR reader will be used by pubs and restaurants in order to check for valid vaccine certificates, but paper certificates will still be accepted by hospitality staff.

The Taoiseach said this afternoon that “there’s an obligation” on everyone to adhere to the new laws. 

“There’s an obligation on all of us as individuals, there’s an obligation on the operators of facilities and restaurants and clubs to make absolutely sure that the new situation pertaining to indoor dining is fully adhered to the spirit and in the letter,” he said. 

There really has to be adherence to because we’ve managed so far to reopen society across many different sectors, which has been very helpful to people at work. I’m talking about personal services, I’m talking about retail, construction, and so forth.

Martin said the context is the “very highly transmissible” Delta variant of Covid-19 which he said required a steady approach. 

“We are taking things step by step, obviously we’ve made a decision today in respect of indoor dining and it will reopen on the 26th,” he said.

The regulations will be worked on and published, along with the guidelines. Irrespective of what setting we’re in, we’re dealing with a very highly transmissible variant. 

Unvaccinated children will be allowed join vaccinated adults once seated two metres away from other tables under the proposals. 

“The advice from NPHET (the National Public Health Emergency Team) is that people who are fully vaccinated, indoors, don’t need to observe social distancing. But because there will be children there, because of the staff that aren’t fully vaccinated, we’ll continue to apply those rules and regulations around social distancing,” Varadkar said.

CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland Adrian Cummins said today that Monday’s reopening represented “a day of hope” for 20,000 businesses and 180,000 workers. 


There has also been a significant update in ventilation guidelines in the Health and Safety Authority return to work protocol.

It contains guidelines for the installation of effective ventilation, including increasing air flow, air extraction systems and the use of CO2 monitors.

The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste both suggested that the further relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions, including allowing up to 100 people attend weddings, will be delayed.

The relaxation was due to take place next month but Martin said a decision on the matter will be taken next week.

Varadkar urged those holding weddings in August to “operate on the basis” that up to 50 people will be allowed to attend.

Speaking on Tuesday, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the three stages of reopening indoor dining was the best way to reduce risk.

Phase one will allow fully vaccinated people or a person who has recovered from Covid-19 dine to indoors, with children under 18 who are not vaccinated also permitted inside.

Phase two will see people allowed indoors if they can produce a negative PCR test, while phase three will see those with a negative antigen test allowed inside a pub or restaurant.

The guidelines state that customers who want to temporarily leave a pub or restaurant will have to be stamped or tagged, and must be checked upon return into the premises.

Opposition TDs have called the legislation underpinning the rules “discriminatory”.

Speaking today on his way into Cabinet ahead of the President’s signing of the bill, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said parliament had passed the legislation and that “the process has to be fully respected”.

Martin said that he met yesterday with Deputy CMO Dr Ronan Glynn and NPHET’s head of modelling Philip Nolan about the rising rates of Covid-19. 

“Every setting now carries a risk with it in the context of the Delta variant itself and its transmissibility. So all of us individually have to redouble our efforts in terms of vigilance, in terms of basics that we learned at the outset of the pandemic,” Martin said. 

He added that it is “vital that people adhere to the regulations” and added that the vaccination programme was progressing “very effectively and powerfully”. 

He referenced that the HSE’s vaccination portal today opened up to people aged 18-24

“Notwithstanding that we do need to be very very vigilant over the coming weeks because the Delta variant is going to increase, we will have an increase in case numbers and we have got to try and keep that to a minimum. 

There are twists and turns in Covid and that is what a global pandemic does. We have managed to return a lot of activity and reopen the economy and society over the last six months, effectively, but we have to be very very careful, because it can get undermined by the Delta variant.

He added: “It does remind us that even though we’re vaccinated we still have to be really careful because it is the combination of the vaccination programme with behaviour that helps us to stop the virus from circulating.” 

With reporting from Christina Finn, Rónán Duffy and Céimin Burke.

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