Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced that Israel may approve expanding the 'Green Pass' proof of immunity program to apply to Israelis aged three and up, as well as limiting gatherings to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors, following a meeting with health and treasury officials on Tuesday.
Ahead of Wednesday's coronavirus cabinet meeting where the tightened measures will be discussed and potentially approved, the officials also urged the government to cover the costs of coronavirus testing of children up to age 12 as rapid-testing stations are being set up nationwide over the next several days.
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Bennett also proposed limiting indoor gatherings to 50 people and to 100 people out of doors, adding that health authorities should prepare for the possibility that a third dose of the COVID vaccine would be offered to people as young as 45, compared with 60 at present.
Green Pass requirements will be imposed on the majority of venues, both public and private institutions, among them swimming pools, fitness centers, academic institutions, all cultural and sports events, exhibitions and conferences, museums, libraries, restaurants and hotels.
Children over the age of 12 who haven’t been vaccinated must take a COVID test. Tests for individuals 12 and up whom haven't been inoculated will be paid out of pocket and will no longer be offered for free.
Nachman Ash, the director general of the Health Ministry, said on Monday that in the coming days “we will know whether the contagion has stopped or whether we need to take additional steps, such as the Purple Badge [program for venues].”
He told a news conference that officials had not yet determined a threshold number that would trigger a lockdown. Meanwhile, he urged the public to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. “Immunization can help us avoid a lockdown,” Ash said.
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The latest Green Pass rules went into effect earlier this week, requiring people entering facilities or events to present the pass regardless of the number of people on site. The only exceptions are houses of worship, for which the rules apply only where there are 50 or more people on site. In addition, the mask mandate was extended to outdoor events of more than 100 people.
The new Green Pass rules allows entry to events and facilities, whether they are in or outdoors, only to those who have been vaccinated, recovered from COVID and show a negative coronavirus test. The rapid test is now admissible, so long as it was taken within 24 hours of the event. A PCR test can be used as well, so long as it was taken 72 hours before the events.
These rules currently apply only to people age 12 and over. Starting August 20, children under the age of 12 will be required to present a negative COVID test anywhere the Green Pass program is enforced.