Limiting indoor dining to people who are vaccinated or immune to COVID is the first step towards the introduction of a system of health-based discrimination, according to the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.
Cabinet has signed on plans to reopen indoor dining for people who can prove their vaccine or immunity status.
Pubs and restaurants will be asked to check whether people have a Digital COVID Cert before letting them in and fines of up to €2,000 can be handed out to people caught forging documents.
The bill includes provisions to extend the system to other leisure outlets like bingo halls and bowling alleys later in the summer.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning the Executive Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) Liam Herrick said he is “deeply concerned” about the plan.
“The Government is going down the road of introducing a system of health-based discrimination and it is not at all clear what the benefit it is hoping to achieve will be,” he said.
The legislation is due to remain in place until October 9th, at which point any extension will have to be approved by the Oireachtas.
Mr Herrick said the Irish people have no reason to believe it will be lifted at that point.
“I think we really have to be concerned about how long this is going to be in place because originally the Government was saying we are just trying to bridge the gap until a critical mass is vaccinated,” he said.
“In terms of sunset clauses, the public has no reason to have confidence in the Government in terms of their treatment of sunset clauses over the last year and a half.
“Already last night the Tánaiste was talking about having concern about children not being vaccinated in the autumn and this not just being about pubs and restaurants but being extended to other indoor environments as well.
“I think this is a mistake, I think this is the thin end of the wedge in terms of introducing health surveillance as a discrimination tool and I don’t think it is sound from a public health perspective.”
He said the Government approached the legislation as a “negotiation with pubs and restaurants” and failed to take account of the equality and data protection issues it could throw up.
“That is going to lead to problems down the road.,” he said.
“The Government is trying to suggest to the opposition and the public that you can only take their option or no option and I think that is very cynical,” he said.
“The Oireachtas has a job to do to scrutinise legislation to consider Constitutional and human rights concerns and we very much hope that it plays that role and properly scrutinises this legislation.”
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