Israel Lifts COVID Restrictions on Outdoor Activities as Fourth Wave Ebbs

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A woman showing her Green Pass in Jerusalem, in February.
A woman showing her Green Pass in Jerusalem, in February. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Israel eased more restrictions on outdoor activities on Friday, as key metrics showed that the fourth wave of coronavirus is continuing to wane. 

As of Friday, activities such as kayaking, rafting and jeep trips will no longer require a Green Pass. Instead, they will be subject to Purple Badge rules of social distancing, which allow gatherings of one person per seven meters and the admittance of children who are too young to be vaccinated.

In addition, school visits to museums and checking out books from public libraries will also be exempted from the Green Pass rules. On Monday, other restrictions will be eased, including attending restaurants with outdoor seating and indoor pools.

The loosening of coronavirus restrictions comes amid a continued contraction in serious coronavirus cases. The tally on Friday stands at 460, the lowest figure in two months, and a steady decline in the last fortnight, where the number of seriously ill patients peaked at over 700. Out of these, 227 are in a critical condition and 183 are on ventilators.

Out of the current patients in a serious condition, 78 percent are unvaccinated and just 6 percent had received a booster shot. Meanwhile, all nine people who died on Thursday were unvaccinated. The total death toll from coronavirus in Israel stands at 7,885.

Moreover, R number, which represents the infection rate, has been well below 1 for the past month and stands at 0.73 on Friday, showing that the infection rate is waning.

The decline seems to be driven by Israel's booster drive, which is gathering apace with over 3.7 million people receiving the third jab. Nevertheless, on Sunday, some 1.9 million Israelis were supposed to lose their eligibility for green passports due to changes in the criteria, though technical difficulties in issuing the certificates resulted to an extension of the old system until October 17.

The updated Green Pass requires people to either have three doses of the coronavirus vaccine, to have recovered from the virus within the last six months, or to have recovered more than six months ago and received at least one dose of the vaccine.

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