Israel to reintroduce COVID health pass if Delta variant strikes | Coronavirus pandemic News

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The ‘Green Pass’ program only allows people who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 to enter certain public areas.

Israel has announced plans to allow only people deemed immune to COVID-19, or who have recently tested negative, to enter some public spaces such as restaurants, gyms and synagogues following a spate of coronavirus cases.

The government had lifted most coronavirus restrictions after a rapid vaccination campaign that cut infections and deaths.

The easing of restrictions included the dropping of a “Green Pass” program that would allow only people who had been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 to enter some public areas.

But some measures have already been reinstated, including wearing protective masks indoors and stricter entry requirements for inbound travelers, due to the rapid spread of the more contagious Delta strain of coronavirus.

In a further tightening of measures, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office on Thursday said the Green Pass program would be back in force from July 29, pending government approval.

“The (Green Pass) applies to cultural and sporting events, gyms, restaurants and dining halls, conferences, tourist attractions and places of worship,” Bennett’s office said in a statement following a meeting of his “coronavirus cabinet.”

Entry to events with more than 100 attendees is only allowed for “vaccinated, recovering and those with a negative test result aged 12 years and older”.

Under what Bennett calls a “soft suppression” policy, his administration wants Israelis to learn to live with the virus — with as few restrictions as possible and avoiding a fourth national lockdown that could further harm the economy.

In addition, Israel’s coronavirus task force has recommended expanding the list of so-called “red countries” to where travel will be restricted without special permission.

That list now includes the UK, Georgia, Cyprus and Turkey, joining a group that already included South Africa, India and Mexico.

About 62 percent of Israel’s 9.3 million residents have already received their first coronavirus vaccination, and more than 56 percent have also received the second dose.

However, Israel has been criticized for refusing to vaccinate most Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, or in the Gaza Strip, which has been under an Israeli blockade for 14 years.

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