Israel is tightening its coronavirus rules: now, in order to get a green pass - a universal permit required to enter indoor facilities and visit indoor events – citizens will have to get a booster if they were vaccinated with their second shot more than six months ago. Alternatively, they can get one by passing a PCR test or if they recovered from COVID-19 less than half a year ago.
Tel Aviv also vowed to boost enforcement of green pass requirements, especially in those regions of the country where infection rates have grown.
People drive in a convoy to slow down the traffic on the highway by the entrance to Tel Aviv, as part of a protest against the government's new policy regarding "green pass" restrictions, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Tel Aviv, Israel October 3, 2021 REUTERS/Nir Elias
© REUTERS / NIR ELIAS
The measure sparked protests by some, who claimed the anti-COVID measures equate to mandatory vaccination, with Israelis forming convoys of cars that clogged the streets of several cities, AP reported.
"We are totally against any forced vaccinations, or any forced medications, and we are totally against doing anything to our children and grandchildren that we don't agree with", one of the protesters told the news agency.
On 3 October, some 2 million Israelis were expected to lose their privileges under the old green passes due to not meeting the new requirements, while the remainder, around 3.5 million people simply needed to have their passes re-issued on a special website. However, the demand was so high that the Israeli Health Ministry's system could not handle them all and crashed, leaving millions of Israelis without new green passes.
As a temporary solution, the ministry extended the expiring old green passes for practically everyone who had them until the system to replace them is up and running again. No clear deadline has been given so far.
27 September 2021, 06:54 GMT
The tightening of rules comes amid the latest surge in COVID-19 cases in Israel, 70% of which were among those unvaccinated. Still, Tel Aviv continues to forge ahead with its push to promote booster vaccination after becoming the first nation in the world to implement the practice – first for the elderly, later for everyone above 12. The Israeli authorities believe that a third, booster shot, restores the partially lost COVID-19 protection given by the first two jabs, which 60% of Israelis have already received.
The practice was later adopted in the US, despite a brief objection from the nation's regulator. At the same time, the World Health Organisation has slammed the administering of booster doses in these countries, arguing that their effectiveness and necessity have not yet been fully proven, while the practice is taking away those vaccine shots that could have been donated to nations which can't afford to buy them in sufficient quantities or can't produce them locally.