THE GOVERNMENT is reportedly considering extending the use of vaccine certificates beyond October 22 in order to combat the recent worrying rise in Covid-19 cases.
For months now, digital vaccine passports have been a requirement for anyone looking to access indoor hospitality, but the system was due to be scrapped on 'Freedom Day' in just over a week's time.
Now, the government is thinking about a u-turn, due to the recent spike in cases which has thrown freedom day into jeopardy.
Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris said that the decision on whether or not the full easing of restrictions should proceed wasn't a "binary one", but added that if vaccine certs stuck around a little bit longer, it would likely guarantee that the hospitality sector would stay open.
"I would think we should be asking more nuanced question of each other and of Government and of public health - how can you safely reopen something and keep it open? So, for example, on the 22nd of October, vaccine certs were due to no longer be required," he said.
Vaccine certificates provide proof that an individual has either been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, or that they've recovered from the disease in the last six months.
As such, unvaccinated individuals were only allowed to access outdoor areas of pubs, restaurants and cafés.
The system was divisive, with many branding it 'discriminatory' as it denied freedoms to anyone who has either chosen not to accept the vaccine, cannot accept it, or hasn't had the opportunity to accept it.
Demonstrations took place in Dublin and Cork over the summer in protest of the rules, but they were implemented nonetheless.
On October 22, Ireland is due to drop the vast majority of public health measures which have been in place since the start of the pandemic.
Physical distancing is set to be scrapped, while limits on the number of people able to attend events will also be dropped. Mask-wearing will be limited to public transport and retail settings only.
However, due to the recent rise in Covid-19 cases across the country, this is all being called into question.
Restrictions are still expected to be eased, but precisely how many of them, and to what extent, is very much still up in the air.