Israel PM announces end of vaccine 'green pass'

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Feb 18 2022 06:11 AM

A protester demonstrating against the Green Pass plan (health pass), a certificate that shows if someone has received at least the first dose of the vaccine, has tested negative or has recently recovered from COVID-19, wears a Second World War emblem depicting the star of David badge with a German word
A protester demonstrating against the Green Pass plan (health pass), a certificate that shows if someone has received at least the first dose of the vaccine, has tested negative or has recently recovered from COVID-19, wears a Second World War emblem depicting the star of David badge with a German word "Jude" (Jew), as a health pass certificate has become mandatory to access an array of services and leisure activities, in Rome, Italy, August 14, 2021. Remo Casilli, Reuters File Photo

JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced Thursday the requirement to show proof of coronavirus vaccination to enter various sites will soon end, as the wave of infections wanes.

Israel had been a early trailblazer of a national vaccine rollout and among the first countries to demand a vaccination certificate, which it called the green pass, to enter a range of facilities.

Bennett said that with a clear decline in both the number of serious Covid cases and the number of confirmed infections, it was a "good time" to scrap the vaccine proof requirement.

"We will stop using the green pass," Bennett said.

The green pass has been a fixture in Israeli life for much of the past year, a requirement to enter bars, restaurants, hotels, gyms and houses of worship, among other sites. 

While the country did not see large scale anti-vaccination protests that affected many other countries, there have been occasional demonstrations and signs of widening frustration. 

Thousands of Israelis streamed into Jerusalem from across the country on Monday in a "freedom convoy" against coronavirus restrictions, that mirrored similar traffic-blocking protests in Canada and around the world.

The demonstrators blared their car horns and waved Canadian and Israeli flags as they made their way towards the seat of Israel's government.

Since taking office in June last year, Bennett has vowed to put the health of Israel's economy at the forefront of his pandemic response, insisting he would not stifle business with draconian restrictions.

His government had already earlier this month started to rollback the green pass requirement, by limiting the sites where it was mandatory.

Days after the Omicron variant was first detected, Bennett ordered the shutdown of virtually all travel, saying the country needed to prepare for the coming wave.

"We were the first to act and close the skies with the onset of the wave. Now we are gradually releasing the limitations," the premier said in a statement.

Last month, on some days, Israel saw more than 80,000 new Covid cases.

The infection rate has now declined drastically, with this week daily numbers falling below 30,000. 

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