Indoor dining return: When will pubs reopen and how will everything work?

Indoor dining return: When will pubs reopen and how will everything work?

CABINET has signed off on plans to reopen indoor dining later this month with pubs, restaurants and cafés set to welcome punters back from next week.

News of the plans will come as a huge sigh of relief for Ireland's hospitality industry.

Around half of the nation's pubs are still closed because they're unable to offer outdoor seating, while an estimated 180,000 members of staff are waiting to get back to full-time employment.

But what systems are being put in place once it all reopens and how will it all work?

Here's everything you need to know:

When will indoor dining reopen?

Indoor dining will be back on the cards anytime between July 19 and July 26.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that once the vaccine certificate systems are up and running, pubs, restaurants and cafés across the country will be given the green light to reopen.

Legislation will be passed by the Dáil later this week to implement the new system, and will come into force next week, or by July 26 at the latest, Varadkar confirmed.

Sources indicate that it's "widely expected" that this day will be either Thursday, July 22, or Friday, July 23.

Do I need to be fully vaccinated in order to dine indoors?

Initially, yes.

If you have received both doses of the vaccine, or you have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months, you will be sent a vaccine certificate in the post, which you must use to access indoor dining areas.


Plans are in place to introduce rapid antigen test systems to allow non-vaccinated individuals to dine indoors later down the line during 'phase two' of the new reopening plan.

When will Phase Two begin?

No date has been confirmed yet, but it's likely to be sometime in August, according to sources.

It will largely depend on the success of the initial opening this month, and whether or not Covid cases spike.

When will I receive my vaccine certificate?

If you have been fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from the virus, you should receive your vaccine pass in the next few days.

Government has warned of delays to the distribution of the certificates, so please be patient if yours doesn't arrive immediately.

Do I need a vaccine certificate if I am a member of staff?


Hospitality staff are exempt from the rule and will be allowed to have a drink or a meal in their place of work.

Will there be time limits for tables?

If tables are unable to positioned at least 2 metres apart, then there will be a time limit of one hour and 45 minutes.

Will children be allowed in?

Accompanying minors will be allowed to enter with parents or guardians who have been fully vaccinated, and social distancing measures will still apply.

Do we have to wear face masks?

You will be required to wear masks when entering, leaving and travelling to use the toilet. But not when you're sitting at your table.

How long will the rules be in place?

They will run until October 9, after when any extension must be approved by the Dáil.

What has the government said?

Leo Varadkar:

"This new law means that people who have evidence of immunity through vaccination or infection in the past nine months will be able to enter indoor hospitality venues," he said.

"We are entering a new phase of the pandemic largely due to the vaccination programme.

"Last year we tried to live with Covid, and we were unable to do so, but we believe this is now possible as a consequence of the vaccination programme.

"We intend to reopen in a sustainable way."

Mr Varadkar said he hopes the approach is not seen as "discrimination", adding it is "entirely a public health measure".

"Our intention is to move forward slowly and never to have to move backwards, and we’re conscious of what we have seen in other parts of Europe.

"I can’t guarantee that won’t happen here but our objective is that it shouldn’t happen, and that’s why we’re moving slowly in steps so that we can get businesses open and get people back to work, and make sure they don’t have to close again."

Micháel Martin:

"I don't accept the UK's approach that it rips through. Covid is a nasty virus that can cause a lot of damage to people," he said.

"We will do it safely and we will be doing it on a phased basis.

"Tomorrow cabinet will assess a memorandum in relation to a phased reopening of indoor dining in relation to different measures over time, with the initial phase following close advice from Nphet.

"I appreciate from the hospitality sector they want clarity and a decision as regards the timing to reopen. Legislation is critical to that.

"Government is meeting tomorrow and will make a decision on that but we are working towards a clear timetable both in terms of the formation of the plan and with the industry.

"The whole purpose is to protect people. We need to do it in a safe way."