DUBLIN (AFP) - Ireland allowed hospitality venues to reopen their doors for indoor trade on Monday (July 26), with customers required to show a "vaccine passport" before they can be served.
Indoor hospitality across the country is now open to the fully inoculated, those who have recovered from Covid-19 within the past six months, and any children in their care.
Under government guidelines, only six adults may sit together, staff must provide table service and all venues must close by 11.30 pm.
The European Union's digital Covid-19 certificate will be the primary "vaccine passport" required to gain access to pubs and restaurants, but a jab record from Ireland's Health Service Executive (HSE) is also accepted.
Ireland's hospitality sector has suffered some of the harshest restrictions in Europe as the nation weathered three pandemic lockdowns.
The country has recorded 5,026 coronavirus deaths.
Industry organisation the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) said 3,000 pubs will reopen on Monday, "many for the first time since March 2020".
But chief executive Padraig Cribben criticised the new rules as "onerous and cumbersome for staff to implement". "Our expectation is that the requirement to check vaccine certs will be removed as soon as possible," he said in a statement.
On Saturday, a large crowd gathered in Dublin to demonstrate against the "vaccine passport" system and other pandemic measures. More than a thousand marched on the Irish prime minister's office bearing placards decrying the "death jab" and calling the vaccine passport system "unconstitutional and undemocratic".
However the vaccine roll-out in Ireland - a nation of five million - has been largely embraced. Over 5.5 million doses have now been administered as the programme has dramatically picked up pace since a slow start hampered by European Union-wide procurement issues.
The head of Ireland's health service Paul Reid said Sunday over 68 per cent of adults are now fully vaccinated.
But the HSE chief warned on Twitter that hospitalisations are also rising.
Daily case figures have also been steadily growing as the Delta variant of the virus sweeps Ireland. On Sunday afternoon the department of health registered a further 1,126 cases.