WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Israel’s government on Sunday has allowed businesses to re-open and resume operations in a move to slowly return to normalcy.
- While shopping malls and stores were included, access to some economies such as gyms, hotels, and swimming pools were only granted to people who have completed the two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine and have procured the ‘green pass’.
- As of Sunday, nearly a third of the country’s population have already been fully vaccinated.
In a bid to slowly return to normalcy, businesses and services in Israel that have closed down during the pandemic lockdowns have re-opened on Sunday with some only available to vaccinated “green pass” holders.
Since its third lockdown in December, Israel’s government has eased restrictions on businesses such as shopping malls and stores with street access, but with specific limitations on crowd size, while providing a steady stream of data on the efficacy of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.
However, only holders of the so-called ‘green pass’ or having received the two recommended doses of the vaccine are allowed to enter gyms, swimming pools, hotels and some cultural facilities.
So far, almost a third of Israel’s population (about 3 million people) have been fully vaccinated, making it the world’s fastest inoculation rate per capita.
Having one of the world’s most advanced medical data systems, Israel has secured a sizable stock of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by paying more than the market price and agreeing to share data with the drug company.
Late Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was lifting weights at a Petah Tikva gym in Tel Aviv, maintained that Israel was moving ahead “with caution”, urging its citizens to get the jab.
“It’s been almost a year since I went to the pool,” 90-year-old Ora Davidovicz told AFP, adding that she couldn’t wait to go swimming and had been counting the days.
Likewise, for 33-year-old Tom John who told AFP that he now felt safe going back to the gym with the protection measure in place. “Everyone here has a green badge,” he said.
The health ministry on Sunday confirmed that about 3.2 million Israelis were about to receive their green pass, including the 2.5 million people who received their second shots more than a week ago and the almost 700,000 who have recovered from Covid-19.
As for Katalina shoe store owner Mordechai Nazarian, he told AFP that hopefully this resumption of businesses is the “right one” after the store had been closed for eight months with some openings in between lockdowns.
Israel’s green pass strategy is being closely monitored to serve as a possible model for future re-opening of other economies once a significant number of the population has been inoculated.