As hinted last week, on Sunday, Israel successfully put an end to its outdoor mask mandate, and reopened its schools, given that students and teachers continue to wear masks in an indoor setting.
Now that more than 80% of all Israeli adults have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, the country will no longer require its citizens to wear masks outdoors, although the mask mandate is still a must when it comes to indoor gatherings where the spread of the virus is more likely. At the start of the pandemic last year, Israel required residents to wear face coverings while they were outside as long as they weren’t exercising. But now that close to 5 million people in Israel have received the two-dose vaccine, health officials are starting to ease restrictions.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said in a statement, “The rate of infection in Israel is very low thanks to the successful vaccine campaign in Israel, and therefore it is possible to ease [restrictions].” Meanwhile, while the end of masking up outside is a positive step forward to getting back to normal, the country is still requiring anyone who enters the country, including citizens, to self-isolate- making sure that people from other countries aren’t bringing in a new variant that might disrupt Israel’s new-found freedom against the virus.
The country’s health ministry noted that there are seven cases of a new Indian variant and they are still assessing the impact it may have on transmission. “We are leading the world right now when it comes to emerging from the coronavirus,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters. The Health Ministry said the requirement still applied for indoor public spaces and urged citizens to keep masks to hand.
As far as the reopening of schools is concerned, teachers were instructed to continue ventilating classrooms and to maintain social distancing in lessons and breaks. Extra-curricular activities such as children’s theatres remain off-limits. “This is still a non-vaccinated population (children under the age of 16) that we want to safeguard,” Health Ministry official Sharon Alroy-Preis told Israel’s Army Radio.