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Government aims to reopen indoor hospitality on 26 July

‘There is a need for personal responsibility, we need to trust people as well,’ said Micheál Martin.

Image: Sasko Lazarov

Updated Jul 15th 2021, 4:34 PM

MONDAY 26 JULY is the date the government is targeting to get indoor dining reopened.

Speaking to reporters at Government Buildings today, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the government is working towards getting regulations in place for that date so restaurants and pubs can open their doors for indoor dining for fully vaccinated people and those that are immune having had the virus in the last six months.

Varadkar confirmed the pubs and restaurants will have an app reader that can be used to verify a person’s cert is valid. Other documentation can also be used as proof when entering a premises.

Tourism Minister Catherine Martin said she is consulting with the health minister on  how to restart live music for both outdoor and indoor licensed premises.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said today that “we need to trust people” to use their own judgment when deciding whether to bring their children indoors in pubs and restaurants.

“The Government made a decision – people can bring their children inside,” he told reporters in Offaly today.

The Chief Medical Officer yesterday advised parents that it is safer not to bring children into indoor dining settings.

Dr Tony Holohan said for those who wished to go out with their children, “dining outdoors is still possible”.

The indoor dining legislation, passed late last night, will see fully vaccinated people and people who have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months allowed to eat and drink indoors.

Under the new rules, children of fully vaccinated people will also be permitted to enter indoors if they are with their parent or guardian.

Varadkar said the message for the next few weeks is that those who are not fully vaccinated need to avoid socialising indoors and avoid foreign travel until they’re fully vaccinated

While today’s case numbers, at 994, are high, there is grounds for “hope” and “optimism”, he said.

The government is looking at a lot of different models at the moment, in terms of the possible impact of the Delta variant.

“We saw in Scotland a very rapid rise in cases, but it peaked at 3,500 [cases]. It’s down to 2,000 today. The positivity rate of 6% – they’ve got to the point where they have about 500 or 600 in hospital now, about 50 or 60 in ICU.

“If that’s the course we’re following, that is manageable,” he said.

While it is “not a good place to be in, it is manageable,” said Varadkar, stating that having about 5% of our hospital capacity being used up by Covid, maybe 15% of ICU capacity, could be handled.

“In Scotland, not only did they not have to reimpose any new restrictions, they’re actually relaxing restrictions. So if that’s the course we’re following, this is a manageable course, but a dangerous one over the next few weeks.

“We will see a surge in cases, there will be a significant increase in hospitalisations, ICU admissions, and sadly, there will be deaths. But the question is, will it be so much that overwhelms our healthcare system? The evidence from Israel, from Scotland is that will not be the case.”

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The Taoiseach struck the same note this morning when speaking about the reopening of indoor dining and allowing children in with their families, stating:

“The numbers are rising case numbers are rising, hospitalisations are rising. So we need to be very vigilant. And people need to take the advice of the chief medical officer in respect of this seriously. But at the same time, you know, in terms of government, I think government has created a good balance here.”

The Taoiseach said there has to be a balance in terms of how this all operates, and how people live their lives. The chief medical officer will advise government but government has to consider the broader issues, he said.

“There is a need for personal responsibility, we need to trust people as well,” he added, stating people need to exercise “their own judgement”.

He said he can’t seen any issues arising from children entering indoor premises stating that restaurants and pubs are controlled environments. 

“It’s about individual and personal behaviour and the end of the day,” said Martin.

While the government is concerned about the Delta variant, the Taoiseach said we are in a “substantially different situation” than the Christmas period as many people have been vaccinated or have received one dose of the vaccine.

Speaking in the Dáil Varadkar said “the pandemic is not over. We are entering a new phase of the pandemic”, stating the surge in case numbers will be made up of almost entirely younger people and people who have not been fully vaccinated.

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