Final meetings to agree the legal rules for the resumption of indoor hospitality are to take place tomorrow morning.

The Attorney General will meet with Government officials and Fáilte Ireland to finalise the regulations which will provide the legal underpinning for the system to allow fully vaccinated, immune and recovered people to dine indoors.

The aim remains to have indoor hospitality reopened next Monday.

It is hoped that the regulations will be published tomorrow, followed by the operational guidelines for the sector.

Hospitality representatives have not yet seen the full guidelines.

Outstanding legal issues centre on enforcement and recognising international Covid-19 certificates.

Today, the hospitality sector also got a technology run through of the new app to check digital covid certificates.

It is expected this will go live tomorrow on the main Government website so bars and restaurants can test its use over the weekend.


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The regulations, which will have to be signed in to law by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, will outline details of how the law will be enforced.

It is expected that the Health and Safety Authority will have a role, while environmental officers from the Health Service Executive will carry out inspections at premises to ensure businesses are complaint.

A previously-mooted requirement for accompanying children who are not vaccinated to sit at tables two metres away from others are not expected to be included in the final guidelines.

But it is thought that it will be left up to individual businesses as to whether or not they want to admit children.

The Attorney General is understood to have a number of outstanding questions which have to be addressed before the rules are given the final seal of approval.

Those regulations will be published along with a separate set of operational guidelines for businesses from Fáilte Ireland.

They will stipulate that there should be no more than six people at a table, no bar service, and a closing time of 11.30pm. They will not include a time limit for customers.

Talks are also focused on how the new rules can be prominently displayed to patrons. There is concern among businesses and Government that people might seek to deliberately flout the laws.

Earlier, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that gardaí will ultimately have a role in enforcing the rules "in the event of someone being unruly and trying to gain entry to an establishment when they don't have proof of immunity, or for example if it turns out a proprietor is not enforcing the rules and regulations".

He told RTÉ's News at One that the reopening of pubs and restaurants indoors is "relatively low risk" because the people who will be indoors will have immunity, with the exception of their accompanying kids, and they will be in a controlled setting.

Mr Varadkar said officials are working "full tilt to get this done, and to get this done well in advance of Monday".

Every effort is being made to ensure new regulations for indoor hospitality are published no later than this weekend, he added.

The Tánaiste said he had no doubts "that garda representative organisations would have complaints about enforcement" but the legislation allows for a 'Class C' fine.

He said that similar rules, such as mask wearing indoors, or taking names and numbers for contact tracing, have already been put in place.

"A lot of these procedures are already in place for other things. Now we're just extending it to one new check, which is to check that somebody has a certificate of immunity.

"People can try to over-complicate this, but it actually isn't all that complicated," he added.

Mr Varadkar said the decision is in line with the National Public Health Emergency Team advice in all areas and departs from it solely by allowing unvaccinated children to enter premises along with their vaccinated parents.

The Government did this, he said, as it did not want to separate parents from their children in such circumstances.

The Tánaiste said it had "never tried to break up a household bubble before" and because of the risks that remain to staff and others, social distancing, mask wearing, table service and table limits will all be in place.

President Michael D Higgins yesterday signed the Health Amendment Bill into law, paving the way for the resumption of indoor hospitality from Monday.

Concerns raised over plan

Sinn Féin's health spokesperson David Cullinane said he is afraid that the safety measures around the reopening of indoor dining will be "so light-touch" that it will not work.

Mr Cullinane said: "I would have preferred if we were using testing, I would have preferred if we were putting in place all the other social distancing guidelines."

He added: "You can jump on a plane now, if you're lucky to get your PCR cert, you can go to London or go to a European country, go into a restaurant, go into a bar and then come home", he said.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) has called for the immediate publication of the guidelines.

RAI Chief Executive Adrian Cummins said 180,000 workers were depending on the new guidelines to allow for the safe and secure reopening of the sector.

The President of the Irish Wedding Association said couples were hugely upset to hear that the number of people allowed to attend weddings next month is unlikely to increase to 100.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Tara Fay said the wedding industry has not been given any update.

Ms Fay said that while restaurants can have more than 50 people at one time from next Monday, numbers for weddings remain unchanged.

Meanwhile, Professor Pete Lunn, from the Economic and Social Research Institute, predicted that people would remain anxious due to reports of high case numbers, and said he would "not expect a stampede" to avail of indoor hospitality next week.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne, he said data shows that "it can take quite a while" for people's behaviour to change when restrictions are lifted.

The owner of Dublin's Panti Bar and Pennylane Bar, Rory O'Neill, said it is "the best decision" for his business to wait a few more weeks before reopening indoors to allow younger staff members to get vaccinated for Covid-19.

Mr O'Neill said he will continue to operate as an outdoor-only business until then and is lucky to be able to avail of outdoor space at the weekends in the newly pedestrianised Capel Street.

He said that none of his pub staff, who are mostly aged in their 20s, raised concerns about Covid-19, but he felt he had a responsibility to take the decision for now.

Additional reporting Mary Regan