*Updated at 9:25 p.m. Israel time
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel will begin injecting citizens 60 years old and up and medical workers, opening up this new demographic just a few days after approving the second booster for people who are immunocompromised.
"The rule that needs to guide us all is that the vaccine, in effect, protects you both from severe illness and from quarantine," Bennett said on Sunday night.
Bennett held the nationally televised press conference to alleviate "frustration and confusion" over new rules designed to allow people who are vaccinated or recovered – Green Passport holders – to lessen the time they need to spend in quarantine.
"We've decided to waive quarantines for the age of five and up. The rule that should be guiding all of us is that the vaccine is protecting you from severe illness and isolation," he said.
People who get their first shot now will be eligible for a temporary Green Passport in order to avoid quarantines. They have 30 days to get their next shot.
This is an incentive to keep kids in school, citizens out of quarantine and enable them to access public venues that require a Green Passport.
Bennett said Israel did the right thing by closing the borders quickly.
"We closed the borders to foreigners. We did it first and bought precious time," Bennett said. "We’ve seen other countries that had to go into lockdowns."
"We were the first in the world with boosters," he added.
Israel could reopen its borders as early as this week, Bennett said.
“I closed the skies five weeks ago when everything was fine, and in the coming week, it is likely that we will reopen the skies,” he said, acknowledging that the information seemed counterintuitive.
He also mentioned that Israel just received a shipment of Pfizer's new anti-COVID drug which will help the Jewish state get over this latest wave.
Bennett said the public needs to get vaccinated or boosted, take their children 5 years and up to get their shots, wear masks and protect the vulnerable.
He also pointed to a high number of children hospitalized in New York and Texas with COVID. Those numbers, however, are children who went to the hospital for other reasons and tested positive for COVID while there.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.