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Israel Tightens Coronavirus Restrictions as New Cases Surge

Brittany Jordan



JERUSALEM—Israel’s government on Wednesday advanced a raft of new coronavirus restrictions, including sweeping implementation of a digital vaccine passport and tighter restrictions on mass gatherings, as the country struggles with skyrocketing new infections.

The country that had appeared to put the coronavirus pandemic behind it a few months ago after one of the biggest vaccine drives is now re-imposing regulations in a bid to clamp back down on infections.

The Cabinet gave its approval for the tighter measures—including limitations on people gathering indoors, and restricting entry to venues and restaurants to “Green Pass” holders—as new cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus increase despite widespread vaccination against COVID-19.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the government would be “giving a booster” to the country’s healthcare system as new coronavirus cases continue a precipitous climb. He said Israel had to prepare for a situation of mass hospitalizations, and was allocating 2.5 billion shekels ($774 million) to help boost capacity at hospitals nationwide.

Despite its vaccination campaign, Israel has seen new coronavirus cases rise in recent weeks. The Health Ministry recorded 5,755 new cases on Wednesday, the highest daily figure since February, and serious cases have grown from 19 in mid-June to 400.

At least 6,580 Israelis have died from coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to Health Ministry figures.

The government had largely lifted coronavirus restrictions by May following its vaccine drive, but with new infections on the rise, it has reinstated limitations on assemblies and indoor mask mandates.

Over 58 percent of the country’s 9.3 million citizens have received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Israel had secured a large supply of the Pfizer vaccines in exchange for trading medical data. Earlier this month Israel started giving third vaccine doses to immunosuppressed individuals and citizens over the age of 60.

Brittany Jordan is an award-winning journalist who reports on breaking news in the U.S. and globally for the Federal Inquirer. Prior to her position at the Federal Inquirer, she was a general assignment features reporter for Newsweek, where she wrote about technology, politics, government news and important global events around the world. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Toronto Star, Frederick News-Post, West Hawaii Today, the Miami Herald, and more. Brittany enjoys food, travel, photography, and hoarding notebooks and journals. Her goal is to do more longform features journalism, narrative writing and documentary work, and to one day write a successful novel and screenplay.

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