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BLACK FRIDAY? Effort to push Green Passport at malls fails after confusion abounds

Was it a fear tactic; a push to get people vaccinated? Details on enforcement were sketchy – and controversial

People shop at the Hadar Shopping mall in Jerusalem on December 16, 2021. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel was heading for another kind of Black Friday as it planned to cross a new milestone in COVID restrictions – requiring a Green Passport to shop at indoor malls.

But before the new regulation even went into effect, it was taken off the shelf amid confusion and anger from mall owners and the public at large as to exactly how this was going to be enforced and by whom.

One mall manager told Channel 12 News, "We are not kindergarten teachers. We are not security guards."

The original plan was to issue a bracelet to people with a Green Passport who would be allowed to roam the mall and shop in all stores. Everyone else would have no bracelet and would be limited to shopping for “essential services” in malls including supermarkets and pharmacies.

Mall owners were unhappy with the latest restriction, which would not only create more work for them but was expected to result in a downturn in business.

“We will not label customers. If the State of Israel wants us to stand at the entrance to the mall, it should send police. Mall employees won’t make this differentiation,” a group of shop owners were quoted as saying by Channel 13 news.

Even police were skeptical. Tomer Lotan, director-general of the Public Security Ministry which is responsible for policing, said that the rules would be difficult to enforce.

“The Green Pass is possible when business owners understand the guidelines well, but in this situation it is different,” he told Kan Broadcasting. “We won’t be able to be [in malls] on a regular basis and it is definitely a challenge.”

The new rule was going to apply to all age groups and even the children of parents who have a Green Passport would be denied entry into the malls unless they are vaccinated or recovered from COVID in the past six months.

Aside from a general push to encourage vaccination for all ages – even 5 to 11 – according to a report on Channel 12, one of the intentions was to incentivize teens who like to hang out in the mall to be current with their injections.

Mall and individual store owners had said earlier this week they plan to take this to the Supreme Court.

The new regulation was brought up as just 81 people in the entire country are in serious condition with COVID.

The Green Passport system remains in effect in most public venues including restaurants, gyms, museums, theaters, universities, hotels and other facilities since this summer.

Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS

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