Third of Israelis Vaccinated for COVID, Cabinet to Debate Purim Curfew

Israel's Health Ministry wants ministers to adopt a proposal for an overnight curfew starting Thursday to avoid COVID violations during the holiday

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Shopping for costumes at a second-hand shop in Jerusalem, this week
Shopping for costumes at a second-hand shop in Jerusalem, this weekCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg

As Israel's vaccination campaign reaches a new milestone with a third of Israelis having received both shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Health Ministry figures, the cabinet is slated to deliberate on Tuesday proposed restrictions for the Purim holiday, which begins on Thursday evening.

3,051,107 Israelis have received both shots of the vaccine, representing 33 percent of the overall population, with more than 51,000 people receiving their second dose on Monday.

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In addition, around 1.4 million Israelis have received the first jab, and are awaiting the second one.

Over the next two weeks, Israel is expected to receive its final shipments of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine: 1.5 million doses of the 10 million dose figure agreed to in the deal reached by the government and the pharmaceutical giant, that is, enough to fully inoculate about five million Israelis.

According to sources in Israeli health maintenance organizations, the timetable for the shipments is not likely to affect the timing of the vaccination campaign or appointments.

The cabinet meeting on holiday restrictions was originally scheduled for Monday, but postponed to Tuesday afternoon.

The Health Ministry is expected to recommend that ministers adopt a proposal for an overnight curfew that would take effect from 8 P.M. to 5 A.M. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (ending Sunday morning).

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “We should do everything to go through the holiday with as little infection and as few deaths as possible,” adding that authorities “must prevent” parties and other gatherings.

In an interview with Kan Bet public radio, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said that the cabinet received updates on a spike in alcohol sales and event invitations on social media to celebrate the festival on Thursday evening.

“To my great regret, I think there’s no escaping restrictions,” he said. In weighing the options, Edelstein said that “a night curfew” was in the cards, in order to allow people to hear the reading of the megillah while preventing parties afterward.

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