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The masks come off today in Israel: Last visible sign of pandemic dropped

With low infection rates, Health Ministry drops indoor-mask mandate

Israelis throwing face masks as they celebrate after the Ministry of Health canceled the mandatory wearing of face masks in the open air, in Jerusalem, April 18, 2021. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

After 15 months, the masks are coming off across Israel.

Israel has slowly unwound its stringent COVID restrictions – many of which have been in place since March 2020 – until the only visible sign that remained of the pandemic was the indoor-mask mandate.

Today, that too has been lifted.

The Health Ministry announcement marks the end of one of the only major coronavirus restrictions that remained.

Since the COVID vaccination campaign began in December, the number of coronavirus cases has indeed dropped dramatically from a record high of 1,200 serious cases to just 29 today.

Israel vaccinated its population at warp speed, far outpacing the rest of the world. Now, more than half of the population has received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The inoculations were just made available to 12 to 15 year olds as well last Sunday, despite an Israeli study showing a link between the injection and myocarditis.

Based on these results and the daily number of new cases holding steady below two digits, the Ministry of Health has incrementally rolled back restrictions over the past few months. Perhaps the most major move was the abolishment of the green passport which required proof of vaccination or COVID recovery to enter many establishments such as restaurants, theaters, arenas, gyms and hotels. This also enabled many to return to work and university since some of these places required the green passport or regular negative COVID tests.

Still, masks were required indoors.

According to the Ministry of Health there are three exceptions: Masks are required on planes for all passengers, for people en route to quarantine and for workers or guests who have not been vaccinated or recovered when visiting welfare institutions, long-term care facilities or homes for the elderly.

While the ministry did not specifically address schools, many educational institutions sent out notices that their in-class mask mandates were being dropped as of this morning.

Despite the abolition of the green passport, some private establishments including offices and schools are still requiring proof of vaccination, recovery from COVID or regular testing in order to get in. One woman confirmed that this is the case at her daughter’s seminary in order to begin the school year in September, ALL ISRAEL NEWS has learned.

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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