Israel begins reopening economy with ‘green pass’ for the vaccinated
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JERUSALEM, Israel, February 22, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — The state of Israel has begun reopening parts of its economy to citizens who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 following a two-month lockdown and the recent release of a vaccine tracking app. Those who have not yet received the COVID vaccine, or who have refused to take the jab, will remain unable to access a number of venues and businesses.
On Sunday, shops, malls, and markets were opened to the general public, with the guidance that staying six feet apart and wearing face masks will be compulsory to enter such premises. Churches and synagogues were also given the green light to open, albeit with intense restrictions, such as limiting all gatherings to no more than ten people indoors, and twenty outdoors.
On top of this, gyms, hotels, and a number of other entertainment and leisure facilities in Israel are able to open their doors to trade, but only with those who can prove they have had two shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, or who have contracted and since recovered from COVID-19.
The borders will remain closed for now, with Israel’s airports not opening for another two weeks.
Individuals who have either received two doses of the abortion-tainted Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or have recovered from the virus will have the special privilege of “green pass” status on the Israeli Health Ministry’s newly released health tracking app, giving holders entry to all reopened businesses, including holiday resorts.
The government promised that “green pass” holders would be “eligible for relaxed restrictions in destinations around the world.”
Israel’s minister for health, Yuli Edelstein, said on the release of the vaccine “passport” that “[g]etting vaccinated is a moral duty. It is part of our mutual responsibility.” He went further, declaring, “Whoever does not get vaccinated will be left behind.”
Echoing the words of his health minister, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu specifically urged those over 50 years of age to get the jab: “Go and get vaccinated! Not just for your health but for all of our health.”
“Our victory over the pandemic depends on you,” he added.
Despite being awarded the “green pass,” which requires renewal every six months, vaccine pass holders will still have to “wear a mask in public settings and practice social distancing, i.e., keeping 2 meters from people and follow restrictions on gathering.”
The Telegraph reported that one business owner, Oleg Ivanyukov, who runs a gym in Rishon Lezion, is not prepared to enforce the new “green pass” system, despite the government mandating implementation of the system to be allowed to reopen. Ivanyukov expressed his worry that such measures are discriminatory.
“I am not a cop or an inspector, so we will just ask them if they have been vaccinated,” he said. “I’m not going to ask to see the certificate, but if they have been vaccinated then they are welcome.”
There is some resistance to receiving the vaccine in Israel, too. Ofek Hacohen, manager of a vacation rentals business in Jerusalem, said that he “won’t get vaccinated,” the New York Times reported.
Asked how he would respond to the government introducing mandatory vaccination legislation, he said, “I’ll surely participate in demonstrations. I believe I won’t be alone. I can survive without going to the theatre, to soccer matches or to a restaurant. It’s annoying but what can I do?”
Edelstein warned, “We will close the economy just as fast as were [sic] are now opening” if there will be repeated violations of the new vaccine “passport” scheme.
Some shopkeepers in the country, however, already use electronic thermometers at the doorway to their premises, as a way to deter customers who might have some symptoms of COVID-19 from entering.
The Israeli government is keen to see the implementation of the “green pass” system, and has vowed that falsifying a vaccination passport in order to gain access to places only open to pass holders will be considered a criminal offence.
At the same time as the vaccine “passport” is being rolled out, legislation is being considered that would give employers the right to refuse unvaccinated people entry into the workplace. It would also mandate that school teachers receive the jab, Edelstein confirmed, according to a report by The Jerusalem Post.
Edelstein is also proposing a bill that would allow the government to identify unvaccinated individuals to local authorities.