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NEW NORMAL? As green passport goes into effect today, Israelis barred from prayer sites, beaches in addition to other locations

Reopening of schools will require both blood tests in addition to nasal swabs of children; New rules “will allow us to live with the coronavirus,” says health minister

Israelis protest against the Israeli government's vaccination campaign and green pass policies, at haBaima square in Tel Aviv, August 7, 2021. Sign reads "We say 'no' to dictatorship and coerced vaccination." (Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

With the implementation of the “Green Badge” system today requiring that Israelis show their health papers in order to gain entry to specified establishments, the new normal has arrived in Israel and it looks like this:

  • Those who haven’t been vaccinated or recovered from COVID cannot enter restaurants, gyms, hotels, arenas, theaters and other venues without a negative COVID test

  • 120 rapid-testing stations have been set up around the country

  • At least one public beach and an entire city has said the unvaccinated are not allowed

  • The Cave of the Patriarchs and the mixed prayer section at the Western Wall are barring entry to the non-vaccinated

  • The Israel Defense Forces will not call up reservists to serve if they have not been vaccinated

The rules apply to houses of worship as well as for those with 50 or more in attendance.

On Saturday, just hours before the Green Badge program went back into full force, about 5,000 Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to protest the impending restrictions.

Nevertheless the plan went into effect. In addition, Israel has a new plan to reopen the schools on time, on Sept. 1, even as some in the Health Ministry are calling for a lockdown.

The plan – accepted by the prime minister – was prepared by the health, defense and education ministries.

Understanding the new normal for schools requires a degree in and of itself:

  • Masks for both teachers and students will be required at all times

  • The government will require that children undergo a blood test to check whether they have COVID-19 antibodies

  • All who do not have antibodies must arrive with a valid negative COVID test on the first day of school

  • Children who are deemed to have enough antibodies for COVID will receive a green passport and will not be subject to quarantines

  • In the event of a student catching COVID, children without a green passport will have to take daily coronavirus tests every day before school for seven days in a row – with negative results – in order to go to school and avoid quarantine

This model will be tested in the ultra-Orthodox schools first, then expanded to Arab schools before the remainder of the education system.

While talk of administering the COVID shots at school has died down, the schools will encourage vaccination. And in cities where the percentage of positive cases is high, coronavirus testing will take place weekly.

Israelis 12 and over who do not have a green passport (which proves vaccination or recovery from COVID) will pay for their rapid tests. The cost is $18.

If the test is positive, the individual is required to enter isolation and take a PCR test. The test costs NIS 52 and is free for children under 12.

Unlike a PCR test, the rapid test only allows entry for 24 hours and then has to be repeated.

“We talked about rapid tests for a year, and now we have them,” Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said. “Today, we are breaking out the infrastructure that will allow us to live with the coronavirus.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett today called on members of the Arab community to get vaccinated, saying the number of those 60 and over who have gone for their third shot is low.

“Your life and the lives of your family members are very important to me,” he said. “Unfortunately, the immunization rate in the Arab community is too low. I hereby call on anyone over the age of 60 to go and get vaccinated with the third vaccine.”

He also urged young people to do so. In fact, he used the occasion of 22-year-old Linoy Ashram’s Olympic gold medal in rhythmic gymnastics on Saturday to ask her if she had been vaccinated and urged her to use her platform to encourage others to get the COVID injection.

Last week, in an appeal to 12 to 15 year olds to get vaccinated, Bennett likened not being vaccinated to “walking around with a machine gun firing Delta variants at people.”

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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