Israel Further Relaxes COVID Rules, Allowing Larger Gatherings, Gyms for the Unvaccinated

Sports centers will open to Israelis fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, and indoor gatherings of 50 people will be allowed starting Thursday

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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The crowded intersection at King George Street in Tel Aviv, last week.
The crowded intersection at King George Street in Tel Aviv, last week.Credit: Hadas Parush
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The coronavirus cabinet on Tuesday approved the easing of additional coronavirus restrictions, including limitations on gatherings and leisure activities.

Starting on Thursday, Israelis will be able to hold indoor gatherings with 50 guests, and outdoor gatherings with 500 guests.

Gyms and sports centers will also be able to open to people who do not have vaccine passports.

Places that do require vaccination certificates will no longer be subject to limitations, including occupancy restrictions, but will still require a green passport for entry.

Outdoor events, such as children's performances, will also be permitted, but capped at 500 attendees, who must remain seated. The new rules are to remain in place until May 19, but are likely to be extended.

The Transportation Ministry also announced that starting Thursday, restrictions on how many passengers can sit in a vehicle will be lifted. Rail passengers will no longer need to reserve vouchers in advance for each train ride.

About 58 percent of Israelis have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and COVID cases remain low – just 0.2 percent of tests came back positive for the virus on Monday.

Last month, Israel relaxed its mask mandate, requiring face coverings indoors but not outside.

Officials are worried, though, that new strains will proliferate in the country. Israel identified two cases of the Brazilian variant on Monday, and one of the Chilean strain, all in vaccinated people who had returned from abroad.

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