Masks No Longer Required Outdoors in Israel Starting Sunday as COVID Numbers Drop

Masks still required indoors, Health Minister says ■ Pfizer CEO: Third booster dose of COVID vaccine will likely be needed within 12 months after being fully vaccinated

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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Jerusalem, earlier this month.
Jerusalem, earlier this month.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein instructed his ministry's director general to sign an order lifting COVID restrictions that require wearing a mask outdoors, his office said in a statement on Thursday.

The restriction would be lifted on Sunday, said the statement, adding that the decision was made after accepting the opinion of ministry professionals that, in light of low COVID morbidity, masks in the open air can be dispensed with.

The statement stressed that Israelis would still be required to wear a mask indoors.

So far, according to Haaretz's tracking of Health Ministry data, 5,338,273 Israelis have received one dose of the COVID vaccine, with 53 percent of the total population being fully inoculated with two doses.

There are currently 2,984 active COVID patients in Israel. Of those, 209 are in serious condition, and 126 are breathing with the aid of ventilators. Since the pandemic's onset, 6,314 people have died of COVID in Israel.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla meanwhile said Thursday that he expects a third booster dose of the company's coronavirus vaccine will likely be required within 12 months after being fully vaccinated. It is possible that an annual vaccination will be required, he said.

Boura's statement was made during an interview recorded on April 1, but was first made public on Thursday.

Earlier this month, Pfizer said its vaccine was 91 percent effective in preventing infection after six months. More data is required before its effectiveness beyond that time period is known. Bourla said at the time that this finding, based on analysis of data from 12,000 people who were fully vaccinated at least six months prior, allowed Pfizer to request full regulatory approval from the United States' Food and Drug Administration. Pfizer's vaccine has thus far been approved for emergency use by the FDA.