Easing Lockdown, Israel Reopens Some Venues Exclusively for Vaccinated

coronavirus
AP Photo/Oded Balilty

Following a two month nationwide lockdown, hotels, gyms and swimming pools in Israel reopened Sunday for vaccinated and recovered coronavirus patients, while other venues including museums and shopping malls reopened to all public.

Israel’s newly launched “Green Pass” system, which allows people who have either been vaccinated or who have recovered from coronavirus to enter certain venues, repeatedly crashed however, so the Health Ministry said that vaccination certificates were enough proof until the system was up and running again.

Certain grades in schools in cities with low infection rates were also allowed to reopen.

Some 4.3 million Israelis, which is close to 50 percent of the population, have received the first vaccine dose of the Pfizer vaccine and 2.9 million received both. Around three million Israelis, including minors and those who have recovered from COVID-19, are not currently eligible for the vaccine.

While a Health Ministry study showed the vaccine was 98.9 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 deaths, the country’s coronavirus commissioner Nachman Ash warned Israel is not out of the woods yet.

Ahead of the upcoming festival of Purim on Thursday evening, which traditionally is marked with large costume parties, the Health Ministry mulled imposing a one-off curfew.

Ash said large gatherings would be “completely forbidden.”

“I urge all celebrants to refrain from parties,” Ash said according to a translation by The Times of Israel. “The outcome is predictable — more confirmed cases and seriously ill and a shutdown of the economy and education.”

He warned that a rise in infections as a result of the holiday may even result in a fourth lockdown.

“The vaccinations won’t help alone, you can’t rely on them. We all need to behave responsibly,” he said.

 

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