As Israel’s daily coronavirus infections decline, the cabinet approved a further easing of restrictions Tuesday, allowing children and those who cannot be vaccinated to attend cultural events, eat at restaurants and enter gyms if they have recently tested negative for the coronavirus.
According to the new rules, children up to age 16 and those who cannot be vaccinated for various reasons will be able to take part in all activities under the Green Pass program, so long as they present a negative coronavirus test from the previous 72 hours.
Attendance at sports stadiums and other venues is currently limited based on the capacities of the individual locations, but with caps at no more than 50% of the maximum capacity, and then only for Green Pass holders — these who have been vaccinated for recovered from coronavirus. The general limits on other gatherings (excluding venues for vaccinated or recovered COVID-19 patients) are set at 20 indoors, 100 outdoors.
Up until now, children below the age of 16, who currently do not qualify for vaccination under the national inoculation drive, could not attend such events. They were also prevented from sitting indoors in restaurants or entering gyms.
In a separate vote on Tuesday, ministers lifted limits on passenger capacity on public transportation, which had been restricted under virus rules to just 75 percent. That change is effective Thursday.
On Sunday, the Health Ministry said it would seek government approval to lift all restrictions on seating at sports stadiums and culture venues for those who have been inoculated.
Under the proposal, cinemas could reopen after being shuttered for more than a year, and even those who are not vaccinated would be permitted to attend gyms, swimming pools, and other attractions that meet the government’s Purple Badge standard for stringent hygiene and social distancing measures to prevent infections.
Private functions will also be included in the steps, with 500 permitted for outdoor events and 50 in enclosed spaces.
On Friday, Israel saw its first day with no COVID-19 deaths in 10 months of the pandemic.
As infections have dwindled, Israel has rolled back restrictions on public life, including lifting the requirement to wear face masks outdoors, which ended last week.
With its aggressive vaccination drive, Israel has seen a sharp drop in daily mortality and infection rates since the pandemic peaked in late January.