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08th Jul 2021

Leo Varadkar says antigen tests may be an alternative to Covid pass when pubs reopen

Clara Kelly

“We’re also looking at the issue of children because we don’t want to split up families.”

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that rapid antigen testing may be used as an alternative to the suggested Covid pass when pubs reopen.

It comes as representatives from the hospitality sector and senior government officials are set to meet later today to look at a plan to reopen indoor dining later this month. Pub and restaurant owners have remained committed to seeking a 19 July reopening date.

However, the government has suggested that pubs and restaurants will only be able to open on the basis of a “Covid pass” for fully vaccinated groups at first, under advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

Varadkar said that fully vaccinated people and those who have recovered from Covid in the last nine months will be looked at initially as part of a “cautious” approach to the reopening of the hospitality sector.

“We’re also looking at the issue of children because we don’t want to split up families, and then the issue potentially with people who have been tested recently,” he told Newstalk Breakfast on Thursday.

When asked if antigen testing might be used to permit people entry to pubs and restaurants, Varadkar said: “It is one of the things that’s under examination at the moment.”

“That would be a departure from public health advice and NPHET advice so we’d be loath to do that right away, but it is an option that’s under consideration. But I would bear in mind that we’re really powering through the vaccine programme now.”

He also said that the vaccine cards that people currently receive after they receive their Covid-19 vaccine are unlikely to be used to gain entry into pubs as they could be easily forged, adding that the EU Digital Covid Certificate and other possible solutions were currently being examined by government.

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