Q&A: What is going on with the return of indoor dining?

Q&A: What is going on with the return of indoor dining?

A sign outside a restaurant in Rathgar, Dublin on Thursday, July 8, after indoor dining, which was due to start on July 7, was delayed. File picture

Bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve indoors from Monday, though businesses are still awaiting the official guidelines. 

Discussions involving the Attorney General, Government officials and Fáilte Ireland are continuing in a bid to agree the guidelines as soon as possible. The delay has added to the frustration felt by many business owners, but here is what we know so far.

Who can access indoor dining?

People who have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid can enjoy a meal or a drink indoors at tables of up to six customers.

What about children?

While children will be able to accompany parents and guardians indoors, there has been confusion over some of the details as businesses await the publication of guidelines.

It has been suggested that tables must be 1m apart, but that tables with children will have to be 2m apart from other tables. This may be ditched before a final sign-off is given on guidelines.

Some businesses have said implementing this type of social distancing would not be viable.

What proof will be needed to access indoor hospitality?

Customers will be asked to show proof they have either been vaccinated or have had Covid-19, however, the exact details of the standardised system for checking this is among the issues still being discussed.

The EU digital Covid cert will be one acceptable form of proof and it has been indicated that, in some cases, a person may obtain a letter from their GP stating they have had Covid-19. However, the type of documents that could be accepted by pubs and restaurants is among the key issues still being thrashed out.

Many business owners have said they will not allow customers dine and drink indoors until all their staff are vaccinated. File picture:Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie
Many business owners have said they will not allow customers dine and drink indoors until all their staff are vaccinated. File picture:Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The Government is to develop an app to allow businesses check customers' digital Covid certificates. It is likely that this digital scanner, which would be downloaded by staff to their phones, could be ready for rollout over the weekend ahead of the reopening.

It is likely that these checks will be carried out at the door before people are seated.

How long can I stay?

Unlike the previous partial reopening of indoor hospitality, there will be no time limits on indoor dining and drinking. The infamous €9 substantial meal rule has also been done away with. However, pubs and restaurants will have to close at 11.30pm.

What changes are in place for businesses?

With the focus on ventilation, the guidelines for pubs and restaurants have been significantly updated in the Health and Safety Authority's return to work protocol.

These updated guidelines contain information on the installation of effective ventilation, including increasing air flow, air extraction systems and the use of CO2 monitors.

How will the new system be enforced?

HSE environmental offices will supervise and inspect the introduction of the new measures. Gardaí will only be involved "where there's obviously a breach of the law", Justice Minister Heather Humphreys has said.

Will all pubs and restaurants open?

No. Many business owners have said they will not allow customers dine and drink indoors until all their staff are vaccinated. Considering many of those working in hospitality are in the younger age groups, this could be at least another month.

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