Israel scrapping Covid vaccine ‘green pass’
Israel will soon end its Covid-19 ‘green pass’ system, doing away with the vaccine card as officials point to a significant decline in severe cases and an end to the Omicron surge.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced the move on Thursday, declaring that “the wave of the Omicron has broken” and that there is now a “sharp drop” in the number of serious infections.
“Earlier today I had a discussion with the Minister of Health and other officials. We will stop using the green pass,” he said in a statement, adding that additional measures would be relaxed “in the coming days.”
In effect for much of the past year, the pass system required Israelis to show proof of vaccination in order to enter a long list of indoor public spaces, including bars, hotels, restaurants, gyms and even places of worship.
During a meeting on the future of Israel’s pandemic response held earlier on Thursday, Bennett called for a gradual easing of restrictions, reiterating that the coronavirus Omicron variant had reached its peak in the country. While the green pass will be phased out entirely by March 1, those entering nursing homes and other high-risk facilities will still be required to test negative for the virus, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The decision to abolish the vaccine pass comes days after thousands poured into Jerusalem to demand an end to the country’s Covid restrictions, with demonstrators dubbing the action a ‘freedom convoy’ similar to those seen in Canada in recent weeks, some even waving Canadian flags.
Since taking the premiership last June, Bennett has vowed to focus on economic recovery following two years of harsh pandemic restrictions on businesses. Almost immediately after the more transmissible Omicron variant was detected in Africa, however, the PM shut down nearly all travel into the country, though has since repeatedly spoken of the need to scale back Israel’s Covid measures.