Israel Reopens, With More COVID Rules Relaxed: Here's Everything You Need to Know

Phase two of Israel's COVID lockdown exit strategy starts Sunday, and some venues will only be open for those who are vaccinated against the coronavirus

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Haaretz
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Bat Yam shopping mall, this week
Bat Yam shopping mall, this weekCredit: Hadas Parush
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Haaretz

The cabinet approved on Friday a plan to reopen some schools, street shops, malls and open-air markets starting Sunday, as part of a series of measures to relax coronavirus restrictions that have been in effect during Israel's third nationwide lockdown.

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The plan includes separate regulations for places that will open to the general public, including shops, museums and libraries, and those that will operate under the so-called Green Pass regulations, opening their doors only to people who have recovered from COVID or received both vaccine doses against it.

Green Pass venues include houses of worship, cultural events, gyms, hotels and swimming pools. To enter, those eligible to do so will be required to present valid ID and a so-called Green Pass, vaccination certificate, or official document stating they had the virus and recovered, as relevant.

What is a Green Pass?

The so-called Green Pass is how people who have been vaccinated against, or recovered from, COVID-19 will be able to physically enter various establishments that will remain closed off to everyone else. The pass comes with a QR code that must be scanned upon arrival, and must be presented together with valid ID.

Israel launches green pass for people with vaccination certificate

It will also be possible to enter places that require the pass by presenting a vaccine certificate or a recovery certificate, which may be obtained online via the Health Ministry and health maintenance organizations' (HMOs) respective websites.

Which places will reopen to the general public?

Places that will reopen their doors to the general public include street-side shops, shopping malls, museums, libraries and certain schools.   

Friday's approval authorizes schools located in cities and towns with lower coronavirus infection rates designated as "yellow" or "green" and in certain cases "orange" under the traffic light plan to reopen their doors to students in 5th, 6th, 11th and 12th grades on Sunday. Last week, preschool through 4th grade students went back to school in these localities. Daytrips may resume, and boarding schools may operate as they had before the lockdown began, in groups of up to 18 students and in a manner that allows students to enter and leave freely.

Ulpans at which new immigrants study Hebrew may also reopen on Sunday, as may activities for at-risk youth. Youth movements and organizations may also reconvene.

Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, this weekCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Which places will require Green Passes for entry?

Venues that will operate under the so-called Green Pass regulations, for people who are either vaccinated or recovered, include houses of worship, cultural events, fitness and dance studios, gyms, hotels and swimming pools.

Anyone who has not been vaccinated against, or who has not recovered from, COVID-19 will be subject to a fine of 1,000 shekels (about $305) for visiting these kinds of venues.

Fines will also be imposed on venues that do not operate in accordance with applicable regulations, which include the placement of signs at their entrances – in Hebrew, Arabic and English – informing visitors that they must present their Green Pass, vaccination or recovery certificate.

Who is eligible to receive a Green Pass? How can it be obtained?

Those who have recovered from COVID-19 and those who have been vaccinated against it will be eligible to receive the Green Pass, which will go into effect one week after receiving the second jab.

The Green Pass may be obtained starting Sunday through the "Ramzor" (Traffic Light) app. After selecting the "Green Pass Issuance" option, those who are eligible to get it, will receive a moving animated image (GIF) of the Pass, indicating that the process has been completed. Once the Pass is issued, it permanently remains in the app.

The pass can also be printed through the Health Ministry's website, or upon request by way of the ministry's call center, it may be received by e-mail, fax or regular mail.

What is slated to reopen in the next phase of the exit from lockdown? When is it anticipated to take place?

In the third phase of Israel's lockdown exit strategy, which is slated to begin on March 7, additional venues and areas of the economy are expected to reopen, and the scope of venues that reopened in one of the first two phases is expected to expand.

Tel Aviv's Carmel Market, this weekCredit: Hadas Parush

What other rules and regulations apply to venues that are reopening on Sunday?

Up to 20 people may attend school classes and educational programs held outdoors, and up to 10 people when held indoors.

Occupancy limitations at malls, open-air markets and street-side shops will apply in accordance with the size of the relevant space. At malls, food courts and dining areas will be closed, fairs will be prohibited and seating areas, chairs and tables will be removed. Digital methods will be used to keep track of the number of mall visitors at any given time.

In houses of worship with permanent seating, occupancy limitations will equal up to half the number of permanent seats. In places without permanent seating, occupancy limitations will apply in accordance with the size of the relevant space, but no more than 300 people may occupy the space at any given time. No food may be served and worshipers who do not live together must maintain a distance of two meters between them.

Visitors to museums must reserve tickets ahead, and guided tours may be held with up to ten participants and by prior arrangement only. To the greatest extent possible, visitors should move in accordance with pre-determined routes and in one direction.

Zoos and tourist attractions in open areas without facilities will reopen, with occupancy limitations according to their size.

Gyms, swimming pools and ritual purification baths will open only for Green Pass holders. Occupancy limitations will apply in accordance with the size of the relevant space, and neither Jacuzzis nor saunas may be operated.

Cultural and sporting events will open only for Green Pass holders. No more than 300 people may attend indoor events, and no more than 500 people may attend events held outside. Attendees must register in advance and will be separated by one seat, save for those who live together.

Attendees must wear masks, remain seated, and may not eat or dance. Events must be halted if the audience does not cooperate. Food and beverages may not be sold at the venues, save for personal size drinking bottles.

Hotels, for Green Pass holders, may also accommodate minors under the age of 16 who present the results of a negative coronavirus test obtained 48 hours before their arrival. Dining areas, Jacuzzis and saunas must remain closed.

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