Big changes for the hospitality sector.
Monday, 26 July marks the day of the easing of restrictions in Ireland and the big news is the reopening of indoor hospitality.
Pubs and restaurants will be allowed reopen for indoor dining for the first time in 497 days to anyone who has received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, accompanying under 18s, or those who have recently recovered from the virus.
The EU Digital Covid-19 Certificate, a HSE vaccine card and a form of ID will be used as proof that a person has received their full Covid-19 vaccination or recently recovered from the virus and will be checked on entrance to restaurants and pubs.
The regulations which will legally support the guidelines will be signed into law later on Sunday as some details are still being worked through.
However, the draft guidelines have been published in order to give the hospitality sector more time to prepare for the return of indoor service.
The new guidelines set out that, for bars and restaurants offering indoor dining, there must be a “defined, managed and supervised entrance point” with an appropriate queue management system.
Measures will also need to be in place to ensure a customer cannot access indoor service without being checked.
If multiple entrances are in use, these measures must be in place at each entrance. There should also be a demarcation between the entry and seating area.
Before a customer is allowed to enter the indoor seating area of a bar and restaurant, they must provide “proof of immunity” from Covid-19, as well as photo ID.
Subject to the finalisation of regulations made under the Health (Amendment) (No.2) Act 2021, this proof of immunity will include the EU Digital Covid Certificate and the HSE vaccination card.
Under-18s who are accompanied by a parent or guardian in an indoor setting currently do not need to show proof of immunity.
“Businesses may refuse access where people cannot offer proof of immunity or recovery or cannot demonstrate that their certificate relates to them,” the guidelines state.
Once these proof of immunity checks are complete, bars and restaurants must record all customers’ time of arrival and party size, as well as confirmation that all patrons over 18 are immune to Covid-19.
The name and contact number of each customer over 18 also must be taken for contact tracing purposes.
Details must be retained for 28 days by the business and must be compliant with GDPR.
If a customer leaves the premises for any reason, they must inform a staff member before re-entry.
The recommendation is that they will either have to be re-checked or provided with a clearly identifiable non-transferable pass which must be returned or checked on re-entry.
Physical distancing of two metres should be maintained between tables. However, if this is not possible, this can be reduced to one metre in controlled environments where certain risk mitigation requirements have been met.
Meanwhile, physical distancing of at least one metre should be maintained between people seated at tables.
Time limits for those allowed to eat and drink inside bars and restaurants are to be scrapped, though there will be a closing time of 11.30pm.
A maximum of six people aged 13 or over is permitted at a table. This limit does not include accompanying children aged 12 or younger. The total combined capacity at a table cannot exceed 15 overall.
Customers can avail of table service only and may not approach or order from the bar or other counter. Face coverings must be worn by patrons at all times other than when seated at their table.
Live music, dancing or mingling between tables is not allowed.
Read the draft guidance in full here.