The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) will not be involved in talks taking place tomorrow between the hospitality industry and government officials, aimed at finding a system that would enable pubs and restaurants to open indoors later this month.

Both the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) and the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) have said that NPHET must be involved in the talks which will seek to come up with a plan before 19 July.

A Government spokesperson told RTÉ News that NPHET members will not be in attendance tomorrow, but that does mean they will not be involved in the process at a later stage.

It comes as the Department of Health reported 562 new cases of Covid-19. It is the highest daily total since 1 May.

There are 48 patients being treated in hospital, with 14 in ICU, which is unchanged from yesterday.

Groups representing the hospitality industry have expressed disappointment that NPHET will not be involved in the talks tomorrow.

Adrian Cummins of the RAI said the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly must instruct NPHET to attend.

He said there is "an urgency to making swift decisions in the interest of the developing a plan" and that "any stalling tactics is not acceptable".

The VFI said the confirmation that NPHET will not be involved in the talks is a "hugely disappointing development".

Service inside restaurants and bars was due to resume tomorrow as part of the next phase of easing Covid-19 restrictions.

However, a decision was taken to delay the reopening on foot of advice from NPHET over concerns about the spread of the Delta variant.

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Earlier, the RAI said the Government must set a date for the reopening of indoor hospitality as a matter of urgency.

Mr Cummins said the sector was now "working towards 19 July as the reopening date".

Mr Cummins said the sector "needs a plan and a date for reopening".

NPHET has already recommended that indoor dining and drinking should only be opened to people who are fully vaccinated.

However, Mr Cummins said "antigen testing has to be on the table" as part of the solution.

Plans for customers needing to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test in order to enter a pub or restaurant have been described as "not workable".

Padraig Cribben, from the VFI, told RTÉ's This Week programme that it is not clear whether such a system would be legal from an equality, discrimination or GDPR perspective.

He said that publicans "don't want a plan to be available by the 19th [of July], we want it to be implementable by the 19th".

However, he stressed that there are strong fears among members that such proposals would not be workable.

Yesterday, Minister of State Ossian Smyth said negative Covid tests were "in the mix" as part of the plan to come up with a system that would allow indoor hospitality by 19 July.

Minister Smyth said that there had to be an option for everyone, and it was important that people were not excluded because the roll-out had not reached their age or they could not take a vaccine.

Vaccination of all adults possible by end of August - Reid

Around 120,000 one-dose Janssen vaccines will be distributed over the next week, as pharmacists begin administering the vaccine to people aged 18-34, the HSE Chief Executive has said.

Speaking to RTÉ's This Week programme, Paul Reid said he could see pharmacies playing a "key role" in the vaccine roll-out in the coming weeks and months.

With this roll-out in pharmacies and the potential for one million extra mRNA vaccines to be purchased from Romania, Mr Reid said that it may be possible to vaccinate the entire adult population by the end of August or the start of September.

"Everything is built on supply lines," he said. "We've had week-on-week impacts on our supply lines."

Mr Reid also said the HSE was ready to provide data on whether a person has been vaccinated or has recently had Covid-19 for the purposes of the Digital Covid Certificate for travel.

He said that the certificate is being created through collaboration across a number of Government agencies.

Mr Reid added that such information available to the HSE could also be provided in future for any pass to get into a pub or restaurant for indoor dining.

However, he said that would have to be "a policy decision for Government".

The Government has maintained that things are still on track to resume international travel on 19 July. It also said that work is still continuing on the EU Digital Covid Certificate.

The statement comes following reports that the certificate may not be ready in time.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for RocDoc, the private company that will issue PCR test results as part of the certificate, said it was "optimistic" that the system will be ready by 19 July. He also said that trials of the system were working well.

Walk-in vaccine clinics operating across NI

Walk-in mobile vaccination clinics have been operating in towns and cities across Northern Ireland this weekend in a push to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

Health authorities hope that by bringing the Covid-19 vaccine directly to the community there will be a quicker uptake.

No appointment is needed and attendees need to be over the age of 18 and show photographic ID.

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Although vaccination centres have offered walk-in slots recently, the idea to bring the Covid vaccine directly to the community is hoped to speed up the numbers vaccinated.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of positive Covid-19 cases this weekend.

There were 533 cases reported in the previous 24-hour period, while 460 new cases were reported yesterday.

Overall, around 60% of the adult population in Northern Ireland are fully vaccinated. The big push now is to get the younger cohort of 18-30 fully vaccinated.

The pop-up vaccine clinics will operate in other parts of Northern Ireland over the coming weekends.


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Reporting by Fergal O'Brien and Samantha Libreri