Israel reports that coronavirus deaths and cases are continuing to fall even after restrictions were eased as the country unlocks following its world-leading vaccination drive.
Around 60% of Israel’s adult population has had their first Covid jab and the country’s R rate is now at 0.68, below the 0.8 threshold which signifies the pandemic is in decline.
Health minister Yuli Edelstein hailed the news on Thursday as the nation prepared for the easing of more restrictions on Friday.
He said: ‘With all caution, I am starting to believe that we are not going back. In the past, to get such data, we needed a strict lockdown.
‘Now, everything is open and all the indices are falling. I am beginning to believe that the difficult times are behind us.’
People eat at a restaurant in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv after restrictions were eased in Israel
The government announced 1,517 new cases yesterday with 11 deaths.
However, since the peak of the pandemic in mid-January, Israel has registered 91% fewer deaths, 86% fewer cases and 73% fewer critically ill patients among people aged over 60.
From Friday indoor venues with a 5,000-person capacity will be allowed to host up to 1,000 people, or up to 75% of their capacity and larger venues will be allowed to welcome up to 3,000 people, at a maximum of 30% capacity.
Outdoor venues that can seat up to 10,000 people will be allowed 3,000 guests and those with more than 10,000 seats will be allowed to welcome up to 5,000 people.
Comes after bars and restaurants, event halls, sporting events, hotels and all primary and secondary schools that had been closed to the public for months were permitted to reopen almost two weeks ago.
Anyone who is fully vaccinated, or has recovered from coronavirus, is eligible for a ‘green passport’ that were introduced in late February.
The passports give people access to indoor dining at bars and restaurants (that are allowed to open at 75 percent capacity, up to 100 people), indoor places of worship (limited to 20 people), as well as tourist attractions.
The passports issued by the health ministry are available either via an app, or can be printed, and grant indoor access to various venues.
Israel has sped ahead with its immunisation campaign. Over 52 percent of its population of 9.3 million has received one dose and almost 40 percent two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, one of the highest rates per-capita in the world.
Nearly 90 percent of the country’s over-50 population has either been vaccinated or recovered from the coronavirus.
With that high-risk population largely inoculated, decision makers have concluded it is safe enough to reopen more parts of the economy.
While vaccination rates continue to steadily rise and the number of serious cases of COVID-19 drops, Israel’s unemployment rate remains high.
Israelis enjoy their outdoor time as COVID-19 restrictions are gradually lifted in Tel Aviv, Israel
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drinks coffee with Mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Leon, as they sit at a cafe while Israel further eases coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in Jerusalem March 7
As of January, 18.4 percent of the workforce was out of work because of the pandemic, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to vaccinate the entire adult population by the end of April, which he said would mean ‘we are out of the corona crisis.’
Israel has won international plaudits for moving quickly to vaccinate its population. But it has come under criticism from U.N. officials, human rights groups and medical experts for not sharing more of its stockpile with the Palestinians.
Human rights groups and many Palestinians say that as an occupying power, Israel is responsible for providing vaccines to the Palestinians. Israel says that under interim peace accords reached in the 1990s, it does not have any such obligation.
Israeli officials have said the priority is vaccinating Israel´s own population first, while the Palestinian Authority has said it will obtain its own vaccines through the World Health Organization and other sources. Israel has vaccinated its own Arab population.