By G9ija

Inside the ‘Gravediggers’ pub beside Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has said the “target” for reopening indoor dining is Monday July 26.

Mr Varadkar said he spoke to the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly about the reopening plans earlier on Thursday.

Speaking at Government Buildings in Dublin, Mr Varadkar said the legislation still has to pass through the Seanad and will then go to the President to sign into law.

On Wednesday night, the Dail passed the Government’s legislation which paves the way to the resumption of indoor dining.

The legislation allows restaurants and bars to serve customers who are fully vaccinated or have immunity from Covid-19 after recovering from the disease in the last six months.

People will have to produce a digital Covid cert that will prove whether they are fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus

“We’re getting things in place,” Mr Varadkar said.

“It looks like we’re going to have an app reader that restauranteurs and publicans can use to verify that the Covid cert is valid and so on.

“A lot of work has been done on that and we are targeting Monday 26.

“It has to go to the Seanad and we need to give the President time to read the Bill and sign it.This pandemic is not over. We’re entering a new phase of this pandemic. 

Leo Varadkar

“We need to get regulations and a few things like that in place.

“The day we’re aiming for is Monday July 26.”

Mr Varadkar also warned that the number of Delta variant cases are surging.

He said that while the sharp rise in cases was expected, it has happened a lot quicker than the models indicated.

“I think there are reasons for real concern and cautiousness,” Mr Varadkar added.

“There are also some reasons for optimism and certainly no reason to catastrophise.

“This pandemic is not over. We’re entering a new phase of this pandemic.

“It’s different for two reasons; the vaccine and the variant.”

In a stark warning to those who are not vaccinated, Mr Varadkar said they are facing a “dangerous few weeks” ahead.

“Unvaccinated people of all ages are the ones who are most at risk,” he warned.

“These are people who are not fully vaccinated, they are the new vulnerable, and they are at greater risk over the next few weeks than at any point since this pandemic.

“We need to emphasise that very strongly.

“People who are not fully vaccinated, the next few weeks are going to be the most dangerous weeks of this pandemic for them.”

Mr Varadkar also said it was not yet possible to rule out bringing in further restrictions.

He said there will be a surge in cases, a significant increase in people admitted to hospital, ICU admissions and more deaths.

“But the question is, will it be so much that overwhelms our healthcare system?” he added.

“The evidence from Israel, from Scotland, is that will not be the case.

“But this is also in our hands.

“A lot of it will depend on how we behave, and what we do society over the next few week.

“As I say, 95% of cases are happening to people who are not fully vaccinated.

“People who are not fully vaccinated have never been at greater risk of getting this virus.

“It’s not just case of you getting it, you may pass it on to others as well so it’s not just about responsibility to yourself.

“It’s a responsibility to everyone around you as well.”

Mr Varadkar also said he believes that Ireland needs to get through another winter before we can say the pandemic is behind us.

“Of course it is behind us when we achieve population immunity or herd immunity, but nobody knows when that is either,” he added.

“I hear people saying it’s when 80% or 90% of adults are fully vaccinated, but we don’t that as that still leaves 20% of the population, children and teenagers, who are unvaccinated.

“We do know evidence from Israel and other places now that would suggest that immunity from the vaccine starts to wane after six months, so we may need then to vaccinate people for a third time.”