Up to 1.8m could avail of indoor hospitality ‘if vaccinated’

Government and sector discuss agenda for reopening and reliable verification system

Sources said six options for how the hospitality sector will operate over the coming weeks were discussed at the meeting. File photograph: Getty

As many as 1.8 million people who are fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from Covid-19 would be able to avail of indoor hospitality services under proposals discussed with the industry today.

Senior Government officials met with representatives of restaurateurs and publicans as part of efforts to develop a system of verifying that a person is vaccinated as sought by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

Restaurants and pubs had been expecting to open for indoor services on Monday, but this was postponed following Nphet advice about the threat posed by the Delta variant of Covid-19.

Sources said six options for how the hospitality sector will operate over the coming weeks were discussed at the meeting.


They ranged from continuing with the status quo with businesses only able to open for outdoor services to using negative antigen or PCR testing to the use of a Covid certificate or pass for people to prove they have been vaccinated or had recovered from the virus in the last nine months.

Testing as a means to access indoor hospitality services was said by one source to be “highly unlikely” to form part of the immediate solution.

There is said to be concerns over the complexity of such a system as well as the potential cost though another source suggested it had not been entirely ruled out as a possibility later.

The industry was told that 1.8 million vaccine passes could be sent out as a means of proving a person had been vaccinated in what some viewed as the most workable short-term solution.

It is understood that the prospect of such a system being self-regulated by the businesses involved rather than the gardaí having a role was discussed.

One source said that proof of vaccination is due to be sent to people via letter or email as part of the European Union’s Digital Covid Certificate system which the Government intends to implement from July 19th.

The possibility that this could be adapted as a temporary measure to allow indoor dining was discussed, though work remains to be done on the legality of its use to access domestic services.

The group is due to meet again on Thursday with sources suggesting proposals on how to reopen indoor hospitality are to be considered by Cabinet as early as next week.

Target date

This would be almost a week earlier than the July 19th target date for developing a plan though this remains the target date for the finished plan.

A Government spokesman said that Monday’s meeting set out three things that need to be done over the period ahead, listing them as progress on the acceleration of the vaccine programme, continued scrutiny of the progression of the more highly transmissible Delta variant and work with the sector to determine ways in which indoor activities and businesses can be safely reopened.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland said several options were discussed at length with a view to trying to reopen indoor hospitality “as soon as possible”. The group will meet again later this week with a view to finalising proposals to be presented to Government for approval.

Pádraig Cribben, chief executive of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI), said the meeting was “frank but fairly constructive”.

He said the VFI still has “serious concerns” about aspects of a proposed system where people would only be able to access premises if they can prove they have been vaccinated.

Mr Cribben said it’s not yet clear that there’s no legal impediments in terms of equality or data protection.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times