The Health Ministry announced Wednesday that it will be extending the validity of the Green Pass for those vaccinated against COVID-19 or who have recovered from coronavirus, through 2021.
The pass grants holders access to certain events and venues.
A ministry statement attributed Health Minister Yuli Edelstein’s decision to the continued decline in morbidity “and the fact it appears the vaccine will protect us until at least the end of the year.”
Chezy Levy, the director-general of the ministry, said he was “happy that the vaccines protect us and allow to get back to routine,” but urged Israelis to continue to take measures such as masking indoors and social distancing.
He also said there was still not enough information on how much protection vaccines offer against coronavirus variants.
The announcement comes a day after the coronavirus cabinet approved a plan to allow the removal of almost all remaining restrictions at sports events, gyms and public pools.
According to the plan, there will be no limit in attendance at sports events for Green Pass holders. For children — who are not yet vaccinated — indoor cultural events will be allowed to hold 50 attendees and outdoor ones 500. Gyms and public pools will run according to a separate “purple pass” system, under which those who are not vaccinated will be able to enter but distancing rules will remain.
Ministers also voted to end capacity limits in taxis and scrap the requirement to purchase a ticket in advance before riding the train.
The new regulations, part of a plan reached by Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper along with Edelstein, will go into effect on Thursday.
The number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition dropped below 100 this week, the lowest level since last July as Israel’s world-leading vaccination campaign continued to show its effect.
According to Health Ministry data, there were 90 people whose condition was defined as serious as of Wednesday afternoon, with 55 of them on ventilators.
There were 72 new coronavirus cases diagnosed in the country over Tuesday, taking the total number since the pandemic began to 838,739. There were 1,212 active cases. According to the ministry, 39,471 coronavirus tests were conducted Tuesday, with 0.2 percent returning positive. The death toll stood at 6,369.
With its aggressive vaccination drive, Israel has seen a sharp drop in daily mortality and infection rates since the pandemic peaked in late January.
Late last month, Israel passed the milestone of 5 million people receiving both vaccine shots.
According to the Health Ministry, 5,065,020 people have now received two doses of the vaccine, accounting for over 60% of the total population and more than 80% of the eligible population over the age of 16. A total of 5,410,942 people have received at least one shot.
The country is preparing to start vaccinating children aged 12-15 as soon as the US Food and Drug Administration approves vaccine use for children in that age bracket, which a US federal official said Monday was expected for the Pfizer vaccine by next week.