Israeli Police to Step Up Enforcing Mask Regulations as COVID Cases Surge

A decision made by Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai will prioritize the enforcement of the indoor mask mandate over Israelis in quarantine, which until now was the police's main task

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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Police patrolling an event in Modi'in, last month.
Police patrolling an event in Modi'in, last month.Credit: Hadas Parush
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

Israeli Police are expected to ramp up enforcement against individuals not wearing masks in closed spaces as the delta coronavirus variant continues to spread nationwide.

Police commissioner Kobi Shabtai decided Tuesday how the police prioritize enforcing mask-wearing and the Green Pass scheme COVID guidelines over enforcing quarantine and penalizing violators. These updated priorities will mean fewer home visits by police and a higher reliance on digitally tracking Israelis in quarantine. 

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Police are also hoping that mayors will provide supervisors to assist with oversight of Israelis in quarantine.

An additional 2,000 police officers will be deployed to patrol malls, clubs, restaurants, event venues, and other closed spaces to impose the mask mandate.

The number of fines, which until now reached a few dozen a day, is expected to rise dramatically.

According to the police, all means necessary will be used, including helicopters, drones, and undercover cops. The police are expected to concentrate their efforts in places with high rates of infection. That list includes Hadera, Rehovot, Ashkelon, Kiryat Gat, Ashdod, Kiryat Malakhi, Ramle, and Yavneh.

Preparation is also taking place for the possibility of a lockdown during the high holidays. "We are prepared for every possibility if a decision is made," said a senior police official.  

According to Israeli Health Ministry data released Tuesday, Israel reported 6,275 new coronavirus cases on Monday, marking the highest daily figure since early February.

On Sunday, Israel reinstated several restrictions in order to curb the spread of the virus. The Green Pass – a certificate granted upon full vaccination or proof of immunity –  is now required in culture and sports events, hotels, gyms, restaurants, cinemas, cafés and conventions, with the exception of houses of worship. 

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