Varadkar rules out antigen, PCR tests for indoor dining until Delta peaks

Tánaiste said guidelines for indoor dining will be ready 'today, if not over the weekend' ahead of Monday's reopening
Varadkar rules out antigen, PCR tests for indoor dining until Delta peaks

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has ruled out PCR and antigen tests for indoor dining in the short-term. File picture

Antigen and PCR testing will not be used for indoor dining until after the Delta wave peaks in this country, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has warned.

From Monday, indoor restaurants and bars are due to reopen for those who have been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid. However, the guidelines for indoor hospitality are still being worked out today.

"I totally accept it would have been preferable if we had all this weeks ago, but the change in policy and the move towards an immunity pass system was a change," Mr Varadkar said on the delays in issuing guidelines.

"We've had to catch up on that but a huge amount of work is being done with representative organisations, with the attorney general's office and government departments. 

"We'd anticipate having the regulations, and guidelines ready today, if not over the weekend, and have everything ready to go on Monday."

Speaking in Galway, Mr Varadkar said he expects a "steep rise" in Covid cases in the coming weeks and indicated that indoor dining will not be extended to those with a clear PCR or antigen test until the peak of the delta wave is passed.

Mr Varadkar said: "We're well into the Delta wave now but nobody knows at what point it will peak and nobody knows how high it will go."

However, he said vaccinations, testing, tracing, and adhering to social distancing and hygiene measures can all lower the number of cases in the coming weeks.

While Mr Varadkar said the legislation allows for an extension of indoor dining to people with a clear PCR test or clear antigen test, he said expert advice is still being gathered on introducing these measures.

"We don't have a date for implementation yet, it probably will take a couple of weeks. 

"I think there is strong sense, certainly in Government, and certainly advice that we're getting from Nphet, that we should go very carefully around any further easing of restrictions, at least until the delta wave peaks and that should be in a few weeks' time, it's anticipated that should peak sometime next month or the month after.

"I think there is some common sense in not easing restrictions further until that happens."

Mr Varadkar indicated that a decision on increasing the number of guests allowed at weddings will be made when Cabinet meets next week.

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