How Will Rapid COVID-19 Testing Work, and What About Kids? Israel Enters Fourth Stage of Reopening

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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Israeli pop star Ivri Lider performs for people with the Green Pass in Jaffa, earlier this month.
Israeli pop star Ivri Lider performs for people with the Green Pass in Jaffa, earlier this month.Credit: Oded BaliltyAP
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

New coronavirus infections continue to decrease in Israel, with the R number – how many people each coronavirus carrier infects – dropping to 0.62 on Sunday. The number of newly infected people fell to 285 and 1.7 percent of all COVID-19 tests came back positive. Considering the improvement of the situation, the Health Ministry released updated directives on Sunday for the fourth phase of opening up the economy: how rapid coronavirus testing will work, what activities children can attend and where only people with the so-called green passport are permitted.

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What are the rapid tests that were introduced on Sunday and how do they differ from regular COVID-19 tests?

These are tests for the coronavirus that do not need to be transported to a laboratory. The result is received 15 to 30 minutes after the sample is taken. The quick tests are less sensitive than the more familiar polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, where a swab is inserted into the person’s nose, but they still allow rapid and reliable results for the purpose of the Green Pass program.

Will the rapid tests change restrictions on children, who cannot get vaccinated?

Yes. Starting Sunday, businesses and places that allow entry only to those with the Green Pass will be able to set up a rapid testing stand at their entrance. Anyone without a Green Pass who gets a negative test result will be permitted to enter.

A shuttered cinema in the central Israeli city of Rishon Lezion, last month.Credit: Hadas Parush

Will children be able to participate in activities that require the Green Pass but have no rapid testing stand at their entrance?

No, children and unvaccinated people will not be able to enter places that require a green passport but don’t have a rapid testing stand. There are, however, some exceptions: Children can stay at hotels after presenting a negative COVID-19 test result. They can also attend events with a negative test result (as long as unvaccinated people comprise no more than 5 percent of the attendees).

Who is responsible for running the rapid testing stands?

Business owners who want the ability to conduct rapid tests will have to finance them; the cost of each test is a few dozen shekels. The business owner can order the tests from an authorized supplier – a list will be available on the Health Ministry’s website. The supplier will be responsible for reporting the results to the Health Ministry.

What happens if someone tests positive with a rapid test?

If someone tests positive, they will have to leave the premises immediately, go home and enter quarantine. They will also have to take a PCR test as soon as possible, and no later than 48 hours after the rapid test.

Is there a change in the way children’s afterschool activities are held?

Children’s afterschool activities, including sports, will continue to operate under the current regulations: outdoors and not in communities designated as “red” according to the traffic light system.

Is there a change in restrictions on private gatherings?

No, private gatherings will continue to be restricted to a maximum of 20 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.

A coffee shop in the coastal Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam, last week.Credit: Moti Milrod

Can people stop wearing masks?

No, masks are still required to be worn properly both indoors and outdoors.

How many people can attend open-air events?

For events where food is served, such as in event halls, conferences, hotel dining rooms, parties or festivals, a maximum of 50 percent capacity will be allowed, up to 500 people. Attendees must hold the green passport.

How many people can attend cultural and sporting events?

Events indoors will continue to operate in accordance with Green Pass restrictions, with attendees seated and no food served. Halls with under 5,000 seats may be filled to 75 percent capacity, up to 1,000 people. Halls with over 5,000 seats may be filled to 50 percent capacity, with no more than 3,000 people attending.

Supporters at a soccer derby between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Tel Aviv in Bloomfield Stadium, yesterday.Credit: Nir Keidar

Open-air event halls and stadiums with more than 10,000 seats may be filled to 30 percent capacity, up to 5,000 people.

Snack bars may be operated at cultural or sports events – but if they are, customer occupancy is limited to 50 percent, with no more than 300 people inside or 500 people outside. This restriction also applies to all informal adult education activities.

How many people can attend non-professional sporting events?

Races, marathons, dance events and Iron Man events may operate in accordance with Green Pass restrictions. The area of the event must be delimited and no more than 300 people indoors and 500 people outdoors will be allowed.

A gym in Tel Aviv, last month.Credit: Hadas Parush

Who can go into nightclubs?

Only people with green passports can enter nightclubs, which can operate at up to 50 percent capacity, with a maximum of 300 people indoors and 500 people outdoors.

What about amusement and water parks?

Open-air attractions can operate according to Purple Badge standards (which include temperature checks, masks worn and at least 15 square meters of space for each person). Attractions in closed spaces may operate only for Green Pass holders.

Amusement parks, water parks and attractions with rides can operate according to Purple Badge standards and a cap on the number of people allowed in at one time: In places with a capacity of up to 10,000 people, no more than 1,500 will be permitted. In places with a capacity of more than 10,000 people, no more than 2,500 will be allowed.

A pool in Tel Aviv, last month.Credit: Hadas Parush

What about swimming pools?

Only outdoor pools will be allowed to operate according to Purple Badge standards, with at least 15 square meters of space for each person throughout the whole compound, and six square meters of space per person in the water.

What changes are taking place at Ben-Gurion International Airport?

Following a High Court of Justice ruling, as of Sunday, the previous restriction of only 3,000 travelers allowed into Israel every 24 hours has been lifted, and the exceptions committee that decided whether unvaccinated Israelis can leave the country has also been abolished. There are no more restrictions on flights or destinations. People who have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 in Israel will not be required to self-quarantine upon their return.

Checking in: people queuing to fly out at Israel's Ben-Gurion international airport, last week.Credit: Hadas Parush

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