Horowitz: Restrictions at indoor venues may soon be eased

PM, health minister agree to scrap capacity limits on outdoor gatherings

Masks no longer needed at large outdoor events; Green Pass canceled for indoor events of under 100 people; changes subject to approval of coronavirus cabinet, Knesset committee

Israeli Green Pass holders enjoy singer Ivri Lider at a concert organized by the Tel Aviv municipality, at Bloomfield Stadium, March 5, 2021. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Israeli Green Pass holders enjoy singer Ivri Lider at a concert organized by the Tel Aviv municipality, at Bloomfield Stadium, March 5, 2021. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

With Israel apparently exiting its fourth wave of coronavirus infection, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announced Tuesday that they have agreed to end capacity limits on outdoor gatherings, as well as scrapping “Green Pass” restrictions on some events.

The new regulations are subject to approval by the coronavirus cabinet, which is expected to hold a telephone vote on Tuesday evening. The changes also need the go-ahead from the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee before they can come into effect from Thursday.

According to the Tuesday statement by the premier and health minister, there will no longer be restrictions on the number of participants at outdoor gatherings.

Additionally, it will now be permitted to hold outdoor cultural, sports, or prayer events with up to 1,000 seated participants without requiring that attendees hold a Green Pass. For indoor events, the threshold will be 100 seated participants.

The Green Pass grants access to public venues for those who are either inoculated against the coronavirus, or have recovered from it, or have recently tested negative.

The obligation to wear a mask in an outdoor gathering of more than 100 people is set to be abolished (smaller gatherings already do not require face coverings). However, the obligation to wear masks indoors remains unchanged.

Soccer fans at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem on September 13, 2021 (Flash90)

The statement said the decisions had been made in consultation with health professionals.

Bennett said the easing of restrictions was due to morbidity figures falling to “relatively low numbers.”

“We are continuing to act cautiously because outside, mostly on the European continent, there is a tsunami of coronavirus at the moment, at unprecedented levels,” he said in the statement.

Prime Minister Prime Minister Naftali Bennett right, and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, left, at a youth vaccination center in Holon on June 29 2021. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/Flash90)

At a press conference, Horowitz vowed that limitations on events at indoor venues will also soon be eased if morbidity further recedes.

Horowitz noted the continued decline in morbidity since the peak of Israel’s fourth major outbreak of COVID-19, which he credited to the rollout of booster shoots.

However he cautioned against premature celebrations, saying the ministry is operating on the assumption there will be another significant wave of infections.

“This isn’t a graduation party,” he said.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz speaks during a press conference on November 9, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Health Ministry figures published Tuesday showed that of 6,198 active COVID-19 patients in Israel, there are 161 in serious condition.

Of Israel’s roughly 9.5 million population, 6,250,208 have received at least one vaccination shot, of whom 5,746,166 have had two doses and 3,996,567 have had the third booster dose.

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