A key ministerial panel overseeing Israel’s COVID-19 response approved a plan Tuesday that will allow the removal of almost all remaining restrictions at sporting events, gyms and public pools.
The new regulations approved by the coronavirus cabinet, part of a plan reached by Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper along with Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, will go into effect on Thursday.
According to the plan, there will be no limit in attendance at sporting events for any holder of the “Green Pass,” a document held by those who are vaccinated or have recovered from the coronavirus.
For children — who are not yet vaccinated — indoor cultural events will be allowed to hold 50 attendees and 500 for outdoor events.
Gyms and public pools will run according to a separate “purple pass” system instead of the Green Pass, meaning those who are not vaccinated will also 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.
Welcoming the plan’s approval, Tropper said in a statement: “We are on our way to a full reopening. I welcome the path we have taken and am glad we have reached coronavirus case numbers that until a few months ago would have seemed fantastical. I look forward to seeing you all at culture and sports events next week.”
“However, the work has not yet been completed, and we will continue to work to open up other places, including cinemas and the world of culture for children,” he added.
The number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition dropped below 100 on Monday, 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 93 people whose condition was defined as serious as of Tuesday afternoon, with 55 of them on ventilators.
There were 62 new coronavirus cases diagnosed in the country on Monday, with a further 45 since midnight, taking the total number since the pandemic began to 838,688. There were 1,235 active cases.
According to the ministry, 37,926 coronavirus tests were conducted Monday, 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, the Jewish state passed the milestone of over 5 million people receiving both vaccine shots.
According to the Health Ministry, 5,061,053 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 5,407,769 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.
On Monday, regulations banning travel to seven countries over fears of importing COVID-19 variants into Israel went into effect.
Israelis cannot travel to India, Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, Ukraine, Ethiopia, or Turkey unless they receive special permission. They may take connecting flights through those countries, provided the layover is shorter than 12 hours.
Special permission may be provided for those with humanitarian reasons, athletes or emissaries for national institutions.
Israelis returning from those seven countries — even those vaccinated or recovered from the virus — must enter 10 days of isolation with two negative PCR tests or 14 days with one test taken upon arrival in the country. The vaccinated or recovered do not need to self-isolate if they merely took a connecting flight through those countries, provided the layover was shorter than 12 hours.