Israel starts reopening with COVID-19 vaccine “passports”

Israel reopened large parts of its economy on Sunday after an almost two-month COVID-19 lockdown, using “Green Pass” to lift some restrictions for vaccinated people while maintaining several bans on unvaccinated people.

Shops, malls and street markets were opened for all.

While access to gyms, hotels, concerts, theaters, cinemas, and other leisure sites and cultural events was restricted only to people who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine or have recovered from the illness, the Prime Minister’s Office and Health Ministry said in a joint statement.

Vaccinated people could get a “Green Pass” status displayed on an app issued by the Health Ministry.

Most school classes have reopened and the rest are expected to be reopened by March, according to a government statement.

With a population of about nine million people, the “Green Pass” applies to about 3.2 million people who have received both shots or have recovered from COVID-19, according to a statement by Health Minister Yuli Edelstein on Sunday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that the country’s large-scale rollout continues at a pace of about 30,000 vaccine shots given every day in the group of people aged over 50.

“In the coming two weeks, we intend to vaccinate over 95 percent of those in this age group,” he said in a video statement.

Israel has entered its third nationwide lockdown on December 27, 2020 while launching a large-scale COVID-19 vaccine rollout. It started coming out of the lockdown on Feb. 7.