As COVID Figures Stay Low, Israel Drops Indoor Mask Mandate, Set to Reopen Jordan Border

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Masked visitors inside Jerusalem's Malha Mall in February.
Masked visitors inside Jerusalem's Malha Mall in February.Credit: Emil Salman

Israel is canceling its mask mandate, save for a few exceptions, starting Tuesday.

The Health Ministry’s director general, Chezy Levy, signed the amendment to its coronavirus health order on Monday, effectively ending the obligation to wear masks in closed spaces. The exceptions include airplane flights, welfare institutions and institutions for elderly considered high-risk and people in quarantine.

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The requirements for the so-called purple and green standards were lifted on June 1. The purple standard, which allowed business to operate during the pandemic, went into effect in April 2020. The green standard, which constituted approval for people who had been vaccinated or had recovered from COVID-19 to enter public spaces, was instituted in February.

Also on Monday, Israel's Foreign Ministry announced an agreement with Jordanian authorities to reopen the southern border crossing between the two countries. The crossing – known as Yitzhak Rabin Crossing in Israel and Wadi Araba Crossing in Jordan – is set to reopen on July 4.

According to the Israeli statement, entry to Jordan for Israelis will be permitted subject to proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19. Passengers staying in Jordan over 72 hours will be required to present a negative PCR test, and take another test after crossing into Israel.

The former health minister, Yuli Edelstein, had signaled last Sunday that if infection rates didn’t change dramatically that the indoor restrictions would be lifted Tuesday.

Indeed, the numbers have remained steady since in the interim. Just four people in the country tested positive on Sunday, out of 21,000 tests. There are 30 people ill with COVID-19 who are in serious condition in Israeli hospitals. At the peak, there were nearly 1,300 seriously ill COVID-19 patients. The number of people in Israel who have received both vaccination shots stands at 5.14 million.

Israel began vaccinating teenagers aged 12 to 15 against COVID-19 on Sunday.

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