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Movie theaters set to reopen after 14-month COVID shutdown

Health Ministry plan will let unvaccinated children and teenagers attend some screenings; others will be for vaccinated only

Illustration of people sitting in the audience at the Cinemateque in Tel Aviv.  March 9, 2018. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
Illustration of people sitting in the audience at the Cinemateque in Tel Aviv. March 9, 2018. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

Major movie theater chains are set to reopen Thursday, following a 14-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Cinema City, YES Planet, Lev, and Hot Cinema chains announced they would resume operations for the first time since March 2020, after the Health Ministry hammered out a framework to allow children to attend some screenings.

The theaters had previously refrained from reopening strictly for the vaccinated under the so-called “Green Pass” system, as many of their patrons are minors who are not eligible for the COVID-19 immunizations.

According to Hebrew media reports, the Health Ministry plan will require the theaters to divide the movie screenings into vaccinated-only shows and those for the general public, including children. The full ministry plan is set to be released early this week.

The move comes after the majority of Israelis — 5.1 million — have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and new virus cases have plummeted to dozens per day. On Saturday, just 12 new cases were diagnosed, in keeping with the lower testing levels over the weekends. There are currently 542 active coronavirus cases in Israel, with 60 people in serious condition, according to the Health Ministry. The death toll since the start of the pandemic is 6,398.

Israel has removed most of its restrictions on gatherings and allowed cultural venues, gyms and pools to reopen, with health limitations, as the virus subsided.

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