Ireland resumes indoor dining at eateries, pubs

Restaurants, bars, cafes and food courts across Ireland have been allowed to provide indoor services to customers who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or have recovered from the disease in the past six months, as well as to children under 18 in their care, according to new government guidelines.

Customers must show their EU Digital Covid Certificate or other valid proof of immunity before entering indoor hospitality venues, reports Xinhua news agency.

They will also be required to bring their photo identification (ID), such as passports or driving licences, to verify their identity. Children will not have to show proof of immunity, but they may be checked for their age at the premises.

Businesses providing indoor hospitality services will be required to record the name and phone number of each customer for contact tracing purposes. Those aged under 18 will be exempted.

The contact details of customers must be kept for 28 days.

Customers will be required to wear face covers at all times while seated. A maximum of six people aged 13 or above can be served at a table. This limit does not include children younger than 12.

There is no time limit on how long customers can stay, but all businesses must close at 11.30 p.m.

Ireland had banned indoor hospitality services for more than 16 months since the pandemic broke out in the country in late February 2020, causing a huge loss to its hospitality sector, which employed an estimated 180,000 people prior to the pandemic, according to local media reports.

While the reopening of indoor hospitality services is widely welcomed by businesses and consumers, it also raises concerns among local public health officials and residents.

Statistics released by the Department of Health of Ireland show a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases in the country in recent weeks.

In the past seven days, the moving average of cases in Ireland has been over 1,200, more than double the average from a month ago, the department said.

The Delta variant now accounts for over 90 per cent of the new cases in Ireland, according to public health officials.