TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has defended the Government's controversial new plan to restrict indoor dining to fully vaccinated individuals once hospitality fully reopens.
He insists that the rules are designed to protect people, rather than divide them.
Martin stressed that "whether we like it or not", the Delta variant is far more transmissible and creates risks that cannot be ignored, adding that schools, childcare, sport, construction, outdoor hospitality and retail would all be jeopardised if cases began to spiral out of control.
"The decision yesterday is to protect all that," Martin said.
"That is my only motivation and the only motivation of Government. It is to protect that and to protect people, not to divide people and divide society."
On Tuesday, the Government announced that the reopening date for indoor dining would be pushed back, and that once it opened up, only fully vaccinated individuals could access those areas.
The announcement went down like a lead balloon, with many accusing the coalition government of discrimination.
Pub owners not only felt betrayed by yet another lockdown extension, but saw the additional set of rules as just another thing to worry about amidst their chaotic and perilous situation.
Earlier today, Tanáiste Leo Varadkar suggested that vaccine 'passports' could be used by pubs and restaurants, just like airports have been doing for international travel.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Varadkar said that using a "corona pass" system means the country might never have to lock down ever again.
The Tanáiste failed to disclose exactly how such a system would work, but said that by July 19, a more concrete plan surrounding the reopening of hospitality should have been developed.