Street dining in Cork, Source: Cork City Council

Proof of immunity required of indoor hospitality guests in Ireland

Proof of immunity required of indoor hospitality guests in Ireland

From 26 July there will be no counter service, no time limit for sitting at tables and no pre-booking requirement

Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, has published operational guidelines for the hospitality industry ahead of the reopening of indoor dining on Monday, 26 July.

Proof of immunity

According to the regulations, customers (except under 18s accompanied by a parent/guardian) must show proof of immunity when going into a pub, bar, restaurant, café or food court. The EU Digital Covid Certificate will be the primary evidence, but other forms of proof, such as the HSE Vaccination Record, will also be accepted. Verification of EU Covid passes will be carried out by the staff using an online QR code scanner.

Along with the proof of immunity, all customers will have to show photo ID at the door of a catering/drinking establishment. Children may also be asked to do the same to prove they are below the age limit for unconditional entry and are related to the person accompanying them. Once the customer is confirmed as vaccinated or recovered from Covid and his/her identity is checked, he/she is deemed eligible to enter the premises. But this is not all. 

Contact tracing

Once proof of immunity checks are done for each person at the entrance, details have to be recorded for all customers allowed entry. Details must be entered for both walk-ins and pre-bookings and must include time of arrival, party size and confirmation that all customers (over 18) have been verified to have immunity. Separately, the name and contact number of each customer (except those under 18) must be taken for contact tracing purposes. The establishment is obliged to retain this info for 28 days.

Table service only

Counter service is prohibited and clients are to be served at tables only with the aim of "protecting unvaccinated workers".  A maximum of six persons aged 13 or over are permitted at a table except when there are children below the age of 12 in the group. The total combined capacity at a table cannot exceed 15 persons.

There is no time limit for sitting at tables and also no requirement for pre-booking. Businesses should take care of the appropriate queue management.

Safety precautions

Face coverings must be worn by customers at all times except when seated at their table. If a customer leaves the premises (or seating area in a food court) for smoking or any other reason they will have to notify a staff member and ideally, receive a re-entry pass.

All customers must vacate the premises by 11.30 pm. According to a government statement, customers should raise their concerns with the business first and if not content, “going to another premises will send a strong signal”.

Grumble at constrains

Hospitality businesses which reopen will be able to benefit from the three-week double payment of the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme. Nevertheless, around a quarter of businesses in the sector are unlikely to reopen immediately under the current guidelines, Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland Adrian Cummins told RTÉ. He cited lack of staff as the "single biggest issue" and said that the required paperwork may create congestion at restaurant doorways.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive of The Vintners Association of Ireland Padraig Cribben described the guidelines as "overly prescriptive" and rife with "last minute unnecessary challenges", such as the contact tracing requirement for every customer. He also voiced the association’s disappointment with the bar counter service ban, explaining that counter service is "intrinsic" to many small rural pubs.

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