February 21 2021 – 06:00
Israel starts reopening as number of Covid vaccines nears 50%
Israel reopened swathes of its economy on Sunday in what it called the start of a return to routine enabled by a Covid-19 vaccination drive that has reached almost half the population.
While shops were open to all, access to leisure sites like gyms and theatres was limited to vaccinees or those who have recovered from the disease with presumed immunity, a so-called “Green Pass” status displayed on a special Health Ministry app.
Social distancing measures were still in force.
Dancing was barred at banquet halls, and synagogues, mosques or churches were required to halve their normal number of worshippers.
Coming exactly a year after Israel’s first documented coronavirus case, Sunday’s easing of curbs is part of a government plan to open the economy more widely next month, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is up for reelection.
Israel has administered at least one dose of the Pfizer Inc vaccine to more than 45% of its 9 million population, the Health Ministry says. The two-shot regimen has reduced Covid-19 infections by 95.8%, ministry data showed