Israel to end Covid-19 restrictions after vaccine success

The majority of Israel's population has received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. PHOTO: AFP

JERUSALEM (REUTERS) - Israel will end local Covid-19 restrictions following a successful vaccine roll-out that has nearly stamped out new infections, the country's Health Ministry said on Sunday (May 23).

With the majority of the population having received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and about 92 per cent of those 50 and older inoculated or recovered, Israel has been gradually reopening its economy after three lockdowns.

The country reported just 12 new virus cases on Saturday, down from a daily peak of more than 10,000 in January.

Curbs on higher-risk activities and limits on how many people can gather in a specific area remain, with a government-issued "Green Pass" that indicates immunity post-vaccination or recovery from Covid-19 allowing greater freedom.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Sunday that he will not be extending the arrangement, meaning the restrictions and the Green Pass system will be revoked from the start of June.

"The economy and the citizens of Israel will get extra room to breathe," he said, but also warned that they could be reimposed should the situation take a turn.

Israel will still keep its borders closed to most incoming travel, though it has started to let in small groups of vaccinated tourists.

The Health Ministry will also re-examine the requirement to wear face masks in closed spaces.

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