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Israel lifts majority of coronavirus restrictions as new cases drop to single digits, but keeps indoor mask mandate

The bulk of the coronavirus restrictions that have plagued the Israeli economy for over a year will no longer be in effect starting June 1. Restaurants, stores, and other establishments will no longer be required to adhere to a capacity limit. The cap on outdoor and indoor gatherings will also be lifted.

The heavily criticized system of ‘vaccine passports’ that allowed holders of ‘green passes’, who either were vaccinated or survived Covid-19, to access certain cultural and sporting events, will be removed as well.

The only remaining restriction is the indoor mask mandate, which is expected to remain in place for at least the next week.

The loosening of restrictions comes after the number of new infections dropped significantly, plummeting to only four new cases on Sunday. The number of active infections has also decreased dramatically to around 350, while more than half of the population has been vaccinated.

While Israel is relaxing the rules for residents, it does not plan to lift the curbs on air travel. International arrivals will still be required to produce negative coronavirus tests, taken before and after landing. In addition to that, travelers have to go into isolation for at least 10 days after arrival. The only way to avoid quarantine is to have a valid vaccination or recovery certification issued by the Israeli Ministry of Health, provided the travelers are not arriving from high-risk countries.

While there were fears that the recent Israeli-Hamas conflict could hinder efforts to stem the pandemic in the enclave, Palestine appears to have fared well – but it’s still a far cry from the Israeli numbers. According to Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila, nearly 98% of all Palestinian cases have resulted in recovery, and only about 1.2% remain active. In Gaza, which was severely damaged by the Israeli airstrikes during the 11-day war, 246 new cases were recorded, while in the West Bank, 56 new infections were reported as of Monday.

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