Indoor dining Q&A: What you need to know ahead of reopening

Are children allowed into pubs and restaurants? Closing time? How many in a group?

When do pubs and restaurants reopen indoors and who can get in?

Under the draft guidelines published late on Friday night, anyone who is fully vaccinated will be able dine indoors accompanied by their unvaccinated children. Restaurants and pubs can reopen indoors from next Monday, July 26th.

Final regulations are expected to be signed off on Sunday, according to a statement from Fáilte Ireland.

What do I need to bring with me to make sure I get in?


Pre-booking is not required, unless restaurants choose to operate this system. Customers will need to bring three things, according to the draft guidelines.

The first will be your proof of vaccination, which will include the EU Digital Covid Certificate or a HSE vaccination card. A digital Covid-19 certificate checker is being developed by the Government for businesses and customers to validate a person’s vaccine status using a QR code reader. The second thing you will need is photo ID. Third, every member of your group will have to provide their name and phone number for contact-tracing purposes.

In a hospitality twist, customers purporting to be a minor may be asked for proof of age if a staff member believes they are over 18. Currently accompanied minors do not require proof of immunity.

Customers cannot book multiple tables indoors. It will be table service only, with customers required to wear masks when moving about.

Who is going to be checking all of this?

In a further development, businesses have been told that they must have some form of staffing on every point of entry to the business, presumably to make sure no one can sneak in through a different door.

Businesses may be liable to fines or closure if they do not check for proof of immunity or refuse access to people who cannot prove their vaccination status. The legislation has assigned the Health and Safety Authority and the HSE as having a role in assessing compliance.

Will there be time limits and will there be a limit to how many can sit at a table?

There will no longer be a 105-minute time limit, which will be good news for many. Businesses may still choose to impose limited booking slots, but it certainly won’t be a requirement this time around.

Fáilte Ireland draft guidelines stipulate that no more than six people aged 13 or over are permitted at a table. The six-person limit does not apply to accompanied children aged 12 and under. No more than 15 people, made up of six adults/adolescents and nine children, are allowed at a table.

What about ventilation, surely this is important too?

Each business will be expected to adhere to health and safety guidelines for the installation of effective ventilation, including increasing air flow, air extraction systems and the use of CO2 monitors. The public health advice is that outdoors is safer than indoors.

Is it true that children will only be allowed in if tables are more than two metres apart?

The draft guidelines state that restaurants can allow children to sit where there is less than two metres between tables, as long as the restaurant adheres to other safety protocols, such as protective screens.

Finally, what is closing time?

Closing time will be set at 11.30pm, although industry sources say this will be reviewed towards the end of the summer and in light of any new public health advice.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is High Court Reporter with The Irish Times