Israel allows dropping indoor mask requirement as daily COVID-19 cases decline


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The Government of Israel has allowed people to go maskless indoors from June 15, 2021, as the COVID-19 cases in the country decline.

As per the Health Ministry of Israel, the requirement for masks to be worn indoor will be lifted from June 15, marking the end of one of the major Coronavirus restrictions remaining in Israel.

The country has in June 2021 logged either zero or one daily COVID-19 deaths. According to the Health Ministry data, the cases of new infections have been in a steady but gentle decline after a steep drop-off in February and March 2021.

Israeli Government had already lifted the obligation of wearing face masks outdoors since April 18, 2021, after the decline in fresh COVID-19 infections in the country.

Mask regulation to continue for some in Israel:

The health ministry while announcing the decision added that some people will still have to wear masks to combat the spread of Coronavirus.

These will include the workers or guests who have not been vaccinated or recovered at the welfare institutions, individuals en route to quarantine, long-term care facilities or homes for the elderly, and travelers on a flight.

Schools excluded from easing of restrictions:

The Health Ministry, for the time being, has also excluded schools from the easing of limitations. Children will be required to wear masks in classes since the majority of those under 16 in Israel are yet to be vaccinated.

However, the ministry added that if the declining trend in morbidity continues and the campaign to vaccinate 12-15 years old, which began on June 13, 2021, succeeds, there will be another discussion to consider dropping the mask requirements in schools as well.

Restrictions to continue for travelers in Israel:

The latest policy of dropping the mask will also extend to Ben Gurion Airport, although the travelers will continue to face other restrictions and individual airlines will require masks on planes themselves.

The Health Ministry of Israel will also continue updating its list of red countries from which the travelers will be required to quarantine for ten days upon return.

COVID-19 vaccination drive in Israel:

Israel, on June 13, kicked off its vaccination drive for children aged 12 to 15, with 6,00,000 eligible for the inoculation.

The move came 6 months after Israel began its vaccination drive for the adults and after the US FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine for the age group.

Some of the Health Maintenance Organisations of Israel have already vaccinated children under age 16 in at-risk groups and have seen no side effects from the shot.

COVID-19 cases in Israel:

At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel, 88,000 active cases in the country and 1228 serious cases were recorded.

However, as of June 14, 2021, there were 212 active COVID-19 cases and 29 people in serious condition all over the country.

Background:

Earlier, in an attempt to curb the increasing COVID-19 cases, various countries made wearing masks mandatory indoors as well as in public places. Israel was also one of the countries to follow the recommendation of WHO to use medical masks.

On April 12, 2020, Israel made it mandatory for its citizens to wear face masks while out in the public. Later, the government also announced rules to enforce wearing face masks indoors as well.



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