Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the EU digital Covid certificate could play a role in the reopening of the indoor hospitality sector.
While antigen testing was an option, any such system would not be ready in time for reopening on July 19th, he told Newstalk radio.
However, the rollout of the EU digital Covid certificate will go ahead as planned on July 19th and could play a role in the reopening of the hospitality sector.
“It can be used both practically and legally as evidence that you are vaccinated or you are immune,” he said.
The use of other forms of evidence was also being considered, said Mr Varadkar, but it was unlikely that the “little card” (containing vaccination details) would be used as it could too easily be forged.
“Perhaps there will be other things we could use as well.”
Earlier, Minister of State Ossian Smyth said that the certificate had been designed for international travel, but that details were being “firmed up” for a proposal for how to reopen restaurants.
“I think they are looking at using these digital certs for entry and I think a proposal is likely to be brought to Cabinet on Tuesday in that regard in case any new laws or regulations are required to operationalise that reopening.”
The digital certificates may be used by the hospitality sector, he said, depending on the scheme devised.
“The important thing is that any scheme that comes up is supported by the restaurants and the pubs as being workable and reasonable and actually something that they want to use.”
The reopening of the indoor dining sector will be “along the lines that Nphet [National Public Health Emergency Team] recommended,” Mr Varadkar said, which meant only those who were fully vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid would be allowed to eat indoors.
The use of antigen testing would be a departure from public health advice and Nphet advice, but it was an option that was under consideration, he said.
“I would bear in mind that we are really powering through the vaccine programme now. One of the advantages of the pause for a few weeks is that we are getting so many people vaccinated and the number of people who aren’t vaccinated or don’t have the opportunity to get vaccinated is now diminishing.
“Whatever you think about PCR or antigen testing, nobody will tell you that a test is better than immunity – it is not.”