Hospitality businesses around the country are preparing to reopen their doors for indoor dining from Monday, with Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly expected to sign-off on the final regulations today.
Fáilte Ireland published updated operational guidelines for businesses on Friday night, clarifying what is required for customers wishing to eat indoors.
The new guidelines cover matters such as the process for customers arriving, the wearing of face coverings on the premises, and the number of people permitted per table, however, there are concerns that businesses may take the brunt of the criticism from the public when implementing the rules.
The guidelines state:
- All customers over 18 must supply the business with proof of immunity, showing they are fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from Covid-19.
- All over 18s must show photo ID to show the proof of immunity relates to them.
- Under 18's may dine indoors accompanied by an adult who has proof of immunity.
- Anyone suspected of being over 18, posing as someone under 18 to avoid having to show proof of immunity, may be asked to produce photo ID.
- The business must take the details of all adults in the group for the purposes of contact tracing.
Although many businesses are eager to reopen for indoor dining, representative groups have voiced their concerns regarding the workability of these new measures.
According to the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), many pub and restaurant owners are worried about the potential backlash from the public, with VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben calling on people to be compliant.
"We see already from outdoor dining that there are people who don't want to wear masks, there are people who want to create issues, but it's fair to say that publicans over many years have been used to dealing with tricky situations.
"But we would ask the public to make life as easy as possible for those who are trying to get back into business," Mr Cribben told Newstalk.
Parts of the new guidelines also represent a huge undertaking for businesses, particularly the need for contact details to be taken from each adult and the requirement that each entrance is staffed at all times to ensure customers do not get in unchecked.
Mr Cribben said the taking of contact information from all adults "will not add anything to the public health scenario", adding these are not measures they signed-up to, but rather "they are measures that have been imposed by Government".
Under the new guidelines, table numbers will be limited to six people over the age of 13, while up to 15 people may sit at a table when children under 13 are included.
As with previous reopenings, service at the bar is not permitting, nor is live music, and the premises must be cleared of customers before 11.30pm.