By TOI STAFF
October 4, 2021
-The Times Of Israel
Enforcement of new passes Green Passes will begin Thursday, the high-level coronavirus cabinet decided Sunday, as Israel continues efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The need for new passes came into effect on Sunday, as the previous ones were automatically revoked. The government, however, has postponed enforcement after the online Health Ministry system crashed Sunday due to high demand, preventing many from obtaining their new permits.
The Health Ministry has said that due to the technical difficulties, old passes can still be used for a few more days. Asked for a specific deadline on Monday, a ministry representative could not say for certain, but expected it to be Thursday, when enforcement starts.
As part of the new rules, venues and businesses that require a Green Pass for entry must scan the permits’ QR codes before granting access to their holders. Though QR codes have existed on the Green Pass since the inception of the system, which is designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, most businesses have forgone scanning them for verification and often simply wave people through with a cursory glance.
But with the advent of new passes on Sunday, authorities have promised a major enforcement campaign starting Thursday in a bid to ensure compliance with the stricter requirements.
Each Green Pass holder’s QR code must now be scanned using a Health Ministry app and compared to their IDs to verify they can enter. The code is intended to make the passes harder to fake.
However, in a confusing directive, the cabinet decided that venues would need to start scanning QR codes on Tuesday, with some still using the old passes, even while the codes on the old passes no longer work.
Individuals who have not been vaccinated or who have not recovered from COVID-19 can also obtain a temporary Green Pass with a negative virus test (valid for 72 hours). Such a test must be paid for privately unless the person in question is not eligible for vaccination.
Ministers decided that schoolchildren visiting museums in organized trips will not require passes. Municipal libraries will also be exempt from requiring a Green Pass for entry.
The panel, holding its first meeting in a month, decided to retain Green Pass requirements for various outdoor gatherings, despite Health Ministry officials reportedly advocating waiving them in certain types of spaces, including outdoor restaurant seating, outdoor attractions and swimming pools.
The meeting came as nearly 2 million Israelis lost access to their Green Pass under newly updated immunity guidelines, most of them due to not getting a vaccine booster shot as the effectiveness of the first two doses wanes.
During the Sunday meeting, Health Ministry officials presented data on the country’s current COVID situation, with an emphasis on morbidity in the Arab community. A plan of action to address the subject was also presented, a statement on behalf of the coronavirus cabinet said.
On Friday, the number of Israelis hospitalized in serious condition due to COVID-19 dropped below 600 for the first time since August 17, according to figures from the Health Ministry. On Monday morning that number stood at 564, with the vast majority of those patients unvaccinated.
According to Health Ministry data, over 6 million Israelis have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, 5.6 million have received two doses, and over 3.5 million have had a booster shot administered.
There are still some 800,000 Israelis eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine who have not yet received a single dose, according to ministry data.