Israel eases coronavirus curbs after vaccine success

Jerusalem, Feb 21 (efe-epa).- Israel on Sunday allowed businesses to reopen and introduced incentives for citizens who have been vaccinated against Covid-19, in a further step to slowly ease nationwide restrictions.

This step comes as 45 percent of the Israeli population have taken at least one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Israel has been the fastest in the world to roll out coronavirus vaccines.

Shopping centers and open-air markets have reopened but people are still required to wear face masks and practice social distancing.

Israelis who have received the required two doses of the vaccine are now allowed to go to theaters, museums, hotels and sports centers after they present a vaccination certificate, the so-called “green pass,” that can be obtained from the health ministry.

Fifth and sixth graders are also returning to classrooms in areas with low numbers of coronavirus cases. Most kindergarten children and first-to-fourth graders were permitted to return to school earlier this month.

The gradual easing of restrictions is part of the second phase of the exit plan from the third nationwide lockdown. The third stage is expected to start on 7 March.

An Israeli study showed that the vaccine is 98.9 percent effective in preventing hospitalization and death, two weeks after a second dose.

Israel has recorded 750,000 coronavirus cases and 5,526 deaths since the start of the pandemic. EFE-EPA


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