On Friday, the cabinet in Israel further decided to ease the coronavirus restrictions, as they rolled back most of the Green Pass requirements that had been imposed previously. This coincides with the slowdown in the number of cases brought on by the Omicron wave of the global pandemic. From Monday onwards, Israelis will no longer be required to show their Green Pass, which indicates a recent negative test result of COVID-19 or proof of vaccination, and this is applicable to hotels, gyms, movie theaters, and restaurants. The existing Green Pass is issued to those who have received two doses of the vaccine in the last four months, have recovered from the virus, or have received three or four doses of the vaccine.
However, it is important to note that people will still be required to present a Green Pass for entering indoor locations, where the risk of infection is high. These include dance clubs and event halls. Some other approvals were also made by the cabinet, which included removing the limit on the crowd at gatherings were checking for Green Passes is required by the organizers. Likewise, commercial sites where the ‘Purple Pass’ was required under which businesses had to restrict capacity in stores have also been removed.
Restaurants are also no longer required to maintain a distance of 1.5 meters between tables. All of these new rules will be applicable until March 1st. The vote from the government comes as the number of cases appears to be slowing down and the Omicron wave of the virus seems to be weaning off. On Thursday, the ‘R’ number, which is referred to as the transmission number because it indicates the average number of people infected by a coronavirus carrier, stood at 0.9. This number had gone below 1 in the previous week, which indicates the virus is waning.
During the peak of the Omicron wave, the R number had climbed to a whopping 2.08. Nonetheless, the number of cases was still quite high as the number of people who tested positive for the virus on Thursday was about 46,429. Furthermore, the number of people who were seriously ill due to COVID-19 had reached 1,130. There has also been an increase in the total death toll since the beginning of the pandemic, as it reached 9,111. Of this total, 353 deaths had occurred in the previous week. The number of tests conducted on Thursday was about 186,145 and almost a quarter of them were positive.
The number of active cases of COVID-19 in Israel stood at 412,891. However, just as Israel was prepared to put the huge Omicron wave of the virus behind it, there are some concerns associated with the new BA.2 variant. Health experts have expressed their concern over it and Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis of the Health Ministry disclosed that 300 cases of this variant have already been detected in the country, mostly found in people returning from abroad. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has already warned that the next week and a half will be difficult for Israel.