People caught attempting to use fake Covid-19 certificates in order to avail of indoor dining will face a fine of up to €2,000 under proposed legislation to allow for the further reopening of the hospitality sector later this month.
The certs will be available to people who have been fully vaccinated, or have recently recovered from the virus.
The Cabinet is meeting this evening to consider the legislation required to enable these measures to go ahead, according to The Irish Times, with the system initially due to remain in place for three months, but may be extended depending on the prevalence of the virus at that point.
The legislation will need to be passed by both the Dáil and Seanad before it can be signed into law by the President. It is expected the proposal will be brought to the Oireachtas in the coming days.
The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly is reported to have written to the Oireachtas Health Committee asking them to waive the pre-legislative scrutiny requirement as the Dáil's summer recess is due to begin at the end of the week.
'Cautious but progressive'
In a joint-statement issued by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin this evening, the Ministers welcomed the Government's agreement on a phased reopening of the sector "in a cautious but progressive manner".
The statement confirmed the EU Digital Covid Certificate, being used to enable the resumption of non-essential travel between member states, may be used as evidence that someone has either been fully vaccinated or recovered from the virus, while a "nationally certified equivalent" will be permitted for use by people outside the EU, including those from the UK and US.
Under 18s will be permitted to dine indoors if they are accompanied by a vaccinated/recovered adult, while social distancing measures will remain in place "to protect workers and children".
Hospitality businesses will also be required to comply with the Government's Work Safely protocol, and operational guidelines will be released by Fáilte Ireland in the coming days.
The statement added: "In relation to setting a date for the opening of this sector, it is the Government's intention to allow the sector to open as soon as practicable."
The reopening had earlier been earmarked for July 19th, however, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that date was not certain as it would depend on a verification system for vaccination/recovery first being put in place and the agreement of the sector.
"The Government has also agreed to give further consideration to the use of PCR and rapid antigen testing in further phases of the lifting of restrictions," the statement said, adding a new expert advisory group on antigen testing, chaired by Prof Mary Horgan, has been established to provide guidance on the matter.