Coronavirus

Vaccine passport pioneer Israel to curb use of ‘green pass’

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Israel, one of the first nations to implement a vaccine pass, is to curtail its use in most places, authorities said Wednesday, despite tens of thousands of daily coronavirus infections.

The government’s coronavirus task force decided only “high-risk” events such as parties will require a “green pass” that certifies a person has been vaccinated or recovered from the virus, according to an announcement released by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government.

The new rules are to take effect Sunday, pending approval from a parliamentary committee.

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Facilities that have typically demanded proof of vaccination, including restaurants, bars, gyms and hotels, will likely drop the requirement if the measures are passed.

The government will soon publish a complete list of places where the pass is still needed, a task force spokesperson confirmed to AFP.

The change comes as cases of Covid-19 continue to remain at all-time highs, with more than 60,000 new cases recorded on Tuesday and 2,618 COVID-19 patients in hospital.

Epidemiologist Nadav Davidovitch, who sits on an expert panel advising the government on COVID-19, said the changes in the green pass made sense because vaccinated people were still being re-infected.

“To continue the green pass in the same way can create false assurances,” he said.

“It’s not reducing infections in closed spaces like theatres. It needs to be used mainly for high-risk places like hospitals, elderly care homes, or events when you are eating and singing and dancing.”

Still, he said it would be “a mistake” to do away with the green pass altogether as Israel did in June 2021, only to reinstate it when cases surged again.

The new rules would also shorten the validity of the green pass to four months for people who received two vaccine shots. Those who received a third or fourth booster would see their green pass last indefinitely.

The task force further recommended that even unvaccinated people would be able to board a flight from Israel without a coronavirus test, provided their destination country did not require one.

Bennett has vowed to avoid the strict closures Israelis endured earlier in the pandemic, before the vaccine rollout was complete.

Coronavirus cases are also surging in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority announced it would close schools for 10 days from Thursday due to the virus.

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