Cabinet to sign off on plans for reopening indoor hospitality
The Cabinet will sign off on plans this afternoon to reopen indoor hospitality in bars and restaurants, RTÉ News has learned.
The incorporeal meeting follows detailed discussions between ministers, senior officials and representatives from the hospitality industry throughout the weekend.
The Government is aiming to have to legislation, which will allow vaccinated people eat and drink inside bars and restaurants, passed by the Dáil and Seanad before the end of the week.
After the bill, which amends the 1947 Public Health Act, passes in the Seanad, most likely on Friday night, it will go the President to be signed.
Once the bill is signed by President Michael D Higgins, the new system will come into operation.
It is expected the President could sign the legislation sometime during the week beginning Monday, 19 July and before Friday, 23 July.
However, the President can consult with the Council of State and ultimately refer a bill to the Supreme Court if he feels it conflicts with the Constitution.
The legislation will also permit those who have recently recovered from Covid-19 to enter bars and restaurants.
People aged under 18 but accompanied by vaccinated parents or another vaccinated person will also be allowed access to indoor hospitality.
Proof of vaccination will be required and this can done through downloading app with a QR code or in paper form.
People vaccinated in Northern Ireland, Britain and the US will be allowed entry into bars and restaurants if they have verifiable proof of vaccination either electronically or on paper.
In a significant development, the legislation will reference the enhanced role antigen testing will play in hospitality later in the summer and during the autumn.
This measure is aimed at ensuring bars and restaurants will be able to continue to stay open from next week onwards.
The legislation will not contain a sunset clause, but is expected to be changed by regulation at the point where all adults have been offered a vaccination.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland has welcomed the news that the Cabinet will meet tomorrow and sign off on the plans.
The RAI said a mammoth amount of work has happened behind the scenes to draft the necessary legislation.
“We are within touching distance of reopening indoor hospitality which will allow for 180,000 employees return to work,” RAI chief executive Adrian Cummins said.
“It’s imperative we build on the progress to date over the weeks ahead.”
Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty had expressed disappointment that the opposition has not seen any of the legislation being prepared for the reopening of indoor dining that is due to be presented at Cabinet next week.
Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week, he also said he is disappointed that public health officials are ruling out the use of antigen testing in the re-opening of indoor hospitality.