Cabinet ministers approve extending the vaccine “Green Pass” certificate by a week as the Health Ministry requests extra time to study the data before deciding whether to cancel the certificate altogether.
The Green Pass program, which limits entry to certain venues and activities to those with proof of immunization or negative tests, had been set to expire on Tuesday. The Health Ministry had asked for more time to evaluate data on how resilient people are to infection with Omicron after vaccination or having recovered from the virus.
Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, who has been vocally opposed to extending the Green Pass, votes in favor of the extension, but vows that he will refuse to extend it “for even one more second” past February 6.
The requirement for educational staff to show a Green Pass is extended until February 27, and the same rules for health and welfare sites are extended until March 1.
Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar votes against extending the pass even for a week, saying there is no longer a cause for it.
“The health minister says the Green Pass is likely to be eliminated, meaning there is clear recognition of its inefficiency,” says Sa’ar.
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz says that the Green Pass should be eventually ended, but notes that there is still a difference in infection rates between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.
At the beginning of the meeting, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says there are signs that the Omicron COVID wave is abating, but it is too early to declare victory.
“We are seeing the beginning of a stabilization trend in the Omicron wave,” he says. “I am choosing my words in order to avoid giving an impression to the effect that it is over, and end-of-Omicron celebrations are out of place. At the moment, at these very hours, we are dealing with severe pressure at the hospitals where there is still a large number of people who are infected.”