THE GOVERNMENT has passed legislation allowing for certain people to partake in indoor dining despite huge pushback from the opposition.
The Health ((Amendment No.2) Bill 2021 was passed in the Dáil last night by 74 votes-- from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Green Party and one Independent-- to 68 votes from every opposition TD from every other party.
The new laws will allow people who can prove they are fully vaccinated or who have had and recovered from the virus in the past six months, via digital Covid passes, to dine indoors.
Unvaccinated children will also be allowed to dine indoors with a fully vaccinated adult, and social distancing measures will still apply.
The plans have proved hugely contentious among both the public and opposition TDs, with many slamming it as 'discriminatory' against people who have not yet been vaccinated or may be unable to be vaccinated due to immune system disorders.
Labour Party leader Alan Kelly said the "discriminatory" bill "crosses a line that should not be crossed... we isolate, treated people differently and say to people that because of the order we have decided you will be vaccinated, we can discriminate against you."
The legislation would see young people working in hospitality allowed to serve fully vaccinated people indoors, but would not be allowed to dine or drink indoors themselves if they have not yet been vaccinated.
The clause to allow unvaccinated minors to dine indoors with a vaccinated adult was also slammed by Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould, who said it "does not make sense to people".
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly defended the bill, saying it was the only way to reopen indoor dining and was an "act of solidarity" with those who have been vaccinated, and the rest of the public will soon have the opportunity to receive their vaccine.
Anyone who has not yet been vaccinated will be allowed to dine outdoors in cafés, restaurants and pubs.
The reopening of indoor dining for people with Covid passes to prove they are vaccinated or immune is set to come into effect next week, after it passes through the Seanad and is signed by president Michael D Higgins.