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Israel Tightens COVID Restrictions, Expands Vaccine Passport Program

08-12-2021
A man receives a third Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from medical staff at a coronavirus vaccination center in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. Israel is grappling with a surge of infections and urging people over age 60 to get a booster shot.
A man receives a third Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from medical staff at a coronavirus vaccination center in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. Israel is grappling with a surge of infections and urging people over age 60 to get a booster shot.

JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel’s government on Wednesday announced new restrictions to fight the country’s latest outbreak of the coronavirus.

Israel is expanding its “Green Pass” vaccine passport system, making most commercial venues exclusive only to those who have recovered from the virus, been vaccinated, or present a recent negative COVID test. Malls, grocery stores, and other places of commerce are exempt from this rule and Israelis can freely enter them without the Green Pass.

The government is also tightening restrictions on people gathering indoors.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett vowed to boost investment and staffing for Israeli hospitals to “prepare for a significant increase in hospitalized COVID patients.” Bennett said the government will invest $774 million into hospitals nationwide.

The Health Ministry recorded 5,755 new cases on Wednesday and serious cases have grown from 19 in mid-June to 400.

Israel had largely lifted coronavirus restrictions by May following its vaccine campaign, but has reinstated limitations amid this surge in cases.

Over 58% of the country’s 9.3 million citizens have been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Earlier this month Israel started distributing third vaccine doses to immunosuppressed individuals and citizens over the age of 60.

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