Israel plans to reopen gyms, malls, and hotels — but only for people who have been vaccinated
- Israel wants to reopen its economy with priority for those who’ve had both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Israel is leading the world in vaccinating its people, and is starting to plan for what comes next.
- The ideas are still being debated, and Israel’s final policy could change.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Israel is debating a plan to re-open parts of its economy for only those who have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the plan in a speech on Sunday, and the Israeli cabinet met on Monday to discuss the plans further.
The policy will likely attract attention from around the world: Israel has vaccinated more of its population than any other nation, with some 45% of people now given at least one dose.
No formal announcement had been made at the time of publication, though Netanyahu spelled out in some detail the plan he was aiming for.
Speaking at the opening of the country’s coronavirus cabinet meeting, , Israel’s prime minister, said that the country must open “gradually and carefully”, the Jerusalem Post reported. Some in Israel are pushing for him to go faster.
Some details of Netanyahu’s plan were posted on his website on Sunday in the form of a transcribed speech.
The country is planned to open in two stages, it said: a preliminary stage followed by a more comprehensive opening in two weeks’ time.
In that second stage, about two weeks later, those who have been vaccinated “will be able to enter hotels, museums, cultural appearances, restaurants, pools, malls, basketball and soccer games, flights abroad and the like”, he said.
Some media have reported that the opening of the venues to vaccinated people could come sooner.
Netanyahu promised in January that the entire country would be vaccinated by the end of March.
More than 2 million people, or just over 28% of the population, have received two jabs, according to data compiled by John Hopkins university.
Data coming from Israel’s vaccine program showed on Friday that the Pfizer vaccine is 93% effective at preventing the disease, giving hope the mass vaccination could allow a return to more normal life soon.
Read more: ICE has no plan to vaccinate 13,860 immigrants in its custody against COVID-19. Here’s how one of the US’s most at-risk groups is falling through the cracks.
However, young Israelis have proved less willing to get the shots, which could slow the rollout as more of the adult population is offered vaccination.
This is causing tension in the lead up to elections in March, which will determine whether Netanyahu will remain in office.
Hareetz reported that Netanyahu also announced on Sunday that he plans to push for legislation to reveal the names of people who have yet to be vaccinated to local authorities.
The country has also been criticised for excluding the Palestinians from the vaccination rollout, Insider’s Erin Snodgrass has reported.
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