Israel to Drop Mask Requirement Indoors as COVID Infection Rate Remains Low

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Israelis walking in a shopping mall in Jerusalem.
Israelis walking in a shopping mall in Jerusalem. Credit: Emil Salman

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Sunday that Israelis will no longer be obligated to wear masks outdoors starting June 15 as coronavirus infection rates remain low.

Speaking at a ceremony honoring medical staff in Jerusalem, Edelstein said that "At the peak of the infection rate, five months ago, there were over 10,000 actives cases. As of yesterday, there are only four."

"At the peak, the hospitals were insanely overcrowded with coronavirus patients, and we reached 1,288 seriously ill patients. Today, there are only 37," he continued. 

The decision, he said, was made after consultation with senior Health Ministry officials. 

Earlier on Sunday, Israel began vaccinating teenagers aged 12 to 15 against COVID-19, following the publication of a promising study that demonstrates the vaccine is not as harmful as initially thought for young males. 

There are 600,000 12-15 year-olds in Israel, and 10,000 vaccine appointments have been booked for children in the age group so far. 

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Israel, almost all COVID restrictions were lifted in the beginning of June.

Children and adults who have not been vaccinated are now allowed to join multi-participant events, enter businesses, restaurants, gyms, hotels, concerts, and attend other activities – without restriction or proof of vaccination.

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