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Cabinet passes rollback of Green Pass COVID restrictions amid drop in case count

Starting on Monday, Israelis will no longer have to flash Green Passes at restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and hotels, but will still have to do so at event halls and dance clubs

A man displays the Green Pass on his cellphone in Jerusalem, October 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A man displays the Green Pass on his cellphone in Jerusalem, October 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The cabinet voted on Friday to approve a rollback in requirements for presenting the Green Pass as part of a further easing of COVID restrictions that coincides with a slowdown in the Omicron wave of the pandemic.

Starting on Monday, Israelis will no longer have to flash their Green Passes, which show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test at restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and hotels.

The current Green Pass is valid for all those who have either recovered or received two doses of the vaccine in the past four months, and anyone who has received three or four doses at any time.

Proof of a valid Green Pass will still be required upon entry to indoor sites where there is a higher risk for infection such as event halls and dance clubs.

The cabinet also approved the removal of crowd limits on gatherings where organizers check for Green Passes, the removal of “Purple Pass” requirements at commercial sites that required businesses to limit capacity at stores and the removal of the requirement to keep a 1.5-meter space between tables at restaurants.

The new rules will remain in place until March 1.

The cabinet vote came amid an ongoing drop in COVID cases as the Omicron wave of the pandemic appeared to have turned a corner in Israel.

A child is swabbed for COVID-19 at a drive-through testing complex in Modi’in, on February 1, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The R-value, the reproduction rate of the virus measuring the average number of people each positive person infects, stood at 0.9 on Thursday after falling below 1 last week. At the peak of the wave, the number reached 2.08.

But cases still remained high with 46,429 more Israelis being diagnosed on Thursday.

The number of patients in serious condition stood at 1,130. The total death count since the start of the pandemic was 9,111, with 353 of those deaths coming in the last week alone. Almost a quarter of the 186,145 tested Thursday received positive results. The number of active cases stood at 412,891.

But just as Israel seems poised to begin to put the massive wave of Omicron-fueled infections behind it, the new BA.2 variant has raised concerns among health experts.

On Wednesday, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, who serves as head of public health services at the Health Ministry, said during a meeting of the Knesset Health Committee that about 300 cases of the new variant have been detected in Israel so far, primarily among people returning from abroad.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned on Tuesday that Israel “can expect another difficult week and a half.”

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