Negative tests will give unvaccinated access to all venues as of Sunday – report

In two weeks, rapid testing will also reportedly launch at locations currently accessible only for Green Pass holders

A technician collects nasal swab samples for COVID-19 at the coronavirus lab, at the Ben-Gurion International Airport on February 28, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
A technician collects nasal swab samples for COVID-19 at the coronavirus lab, at the Ben-Gurion International Airport on February 28, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Starting Sunday, the Health Ministry will reportedly allow unvaccinated Israelis to enter locations that require a Green Pass when presenting valid negative coronavirus tests.

The tests will have to be from the previous 48 hours and will allow children under 16 and those who choose not to be vaccinated to enter cultural and sporting events, hotels, gyms, and other venues currently available only to those with a Green Pass, Channel 12 reported.

Walla news reported a different version of the upcoming plan, saying the option will only be available to minors who are not currently included in Israel’s vaccine drive, but not to adults who choose not to receive the vaccine.

Both reports added that, initially, only five percent of people at any venue can be unvaccinated.

A man presents his Green Pass, proof that he is vaccinated against the coronavirus, on opening night at the Khan Theater for a performance where all guests were required to show proof of vaccination or full recovery from the virus, in Jerusalem, February 23, 2021. (AP/Maya Alleruzzo)

The Health Ministry in February launched the long-awaited “Green Pass” certificate enabling those vaccinated or recovered from the coronavirus to take part in various activities.

The Health Ministry is also looking at launching quick tests at the entrance to venues in two weeks’ time, Channel 12 reported. The network said five companies will provide quick testing services to non-vaccinated individuals.

It is not yet clear whether businesses will be required to fully fund the tests or whether the government will partially subsidize them.

On Sunday, restaurants will reopen and serve tens of thousands of Israelis who have reserved tables.

Since ministers approved the reopening of restaurants starting next week, some 28,000 reservations have been booked through a mobile app, Ontopo, with the number growing by about 1,000 each hour, Channel 12 reported.

According to the app, the majority — some 60% of those booking — prefer to sit outdoors, while the remaining 40% requested to sit indoors, under the Green Pass guidelines.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed Thursday that Israel was largely done with the coronavirus, saying that it was the first country in the world to put the pandemic behind it, thanks to its quick and efficient vaccination campaign.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, holds a Green Pass for citizens vaccinated against COVID-19, as he visits a fitness gym with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, right, and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, to observe how the pass is used, in Modi’in, Thursday, March 4, 2021 (Avigail Uzi/Pool via AP)

Israel is “the first country in the world to emerge from corona. With this green passport you can go to restaurants, you can go to theaters, you can go to sports events. This is it. We’re coming out,” Netanyahu said during an interview with the US network Fox News.

Netanyahu said, “Look, I don’t think we’re coming out completely. We’re going to have to wear a mask for some time. But we’re behind it.”

The Health Ministry said Thursday night that 4,896,113 Israelis had received a first vaccine dose, of whom 3,642,338 have also received a second. Health Ministry data shows that some 90% of Israelis aged 50 and up have either been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered from the disease, as serious illness numbers have dropped.

New coronavirus deaths and infections in Israel have continued to decline from highs in January, and the number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients has dropped to its lowest point since last year.

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