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Covid travel certificates may arrive in the post within days

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Digital Covid Certificates for international travel may be arriving in letter boxes in the coming days as the Government ramps up plans to meet its July 19 deadline.

It is also expected EU travel passes will be used to pave the way for the return of indoor dining.

At a meeting with the hospitality sector, Government officials said the certificates will be posted to vaccinated people in the coming days and could be used as part of a vaccine identity system for pubs, restaurants and cafes.

Officials told the meeting the certificates could be sent to the 1.8 million people who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from Covid-19 in the coming days.

An identification system regulated by the hospitality industry for those who have either been vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 is seen as the most likely option for the return of indoor dining.

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Industry sources speaking after the meeting said it is unlikely PCR or antigen testing will be part of the solution as it will be overly complicated and expensive to introduce.

However, last night Government sources insisted they are still eager for antigen testing to be utilised as part of the plan for easing restrictions on indoor dining.

Government officials have been examining the Corona Pass system in Denmark where people can get rapid tests at testing centres and then present the results when entering a pub or restaurant.

Negotiations are ongoing with the hospitality sector but it was agreed that another meeting will be held on Thursday where officials will provide more detail on how a vaccine and immunisation identification system could be implemented.

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It is hoped a final plan can then be presented to ministers over the weekend and cleared by Cabinet next week.

At the meeting, six scenarios were presented ranging from doing nothing to banning indoor dining until September when the majority of the adult population will be fully vaccinated.

Sources at the meeting said officials put significant focus on introducing an identification system for vaccinated people and those who have immunity after recovering from the virus in the last nine months.

Other scenarios involved allowing people with negative PCR or antigen tests to eat and drink inside.

However, concerns were raised about how and when a testing system for indoor dining could be introduced.

There were also concerns about how such testing could be introduced in more rural settings.

Hospitality representatives were warned that if an app has to be developed for indoor dining it could take a number of months.

They were told there will be no Garda enforcement of vaccine passes and the industry will be asked to regulate the scheme.

Sources said there were also discussions around restaurant and pub owners signing a safety charter for the new ID system.

However, concerns were raised around the legality of such a system and officials said they will seek advice form the Attorney General in advance of the next meeting.

In a statement, Restaurants Association of Ireland chief executive Adrian Cummins said: “A number of options were discussed at length with a view to try and reopen indoor hospitality as soon as possible.

“The group will reconvene on Thursday with a view to finalising proposals which will be presented to Government for approval,” he added.

A Government spokesperson said the meeting was “a useful opportunity” to build on last week’s discussions with the hospitality sector.

The spokesperson said it was decided that a plan would be agreed by July 19.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland


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