image Photo: Flash90

Israel drops indoor mask mandate

Israeli are no longer compelled to wear COVID-19 masks inside of closed public venues, in the second such revision after the measure was briefly dropped and then restored last year in response to a rise in cases.

By Erin Viner

A joint statement issued by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz obtained by TV7 stated that they had come to an agreement to lift Israel’s indoor mask mandate, which will go into effect tomorrow at 8 PM local time.

The two leaders said they made the decision “in light of the decline in COVID-19 cases,” although the obligation to wear masks will continue to be required in places with high potential for infection such as hospitals, care homes for the elderly, flights and people on their way into isolation due to exposure to the coronavirus.

Israelis have not had to wear masks outdoors since April 2021. The indoor mask mandate was dropped last June but was re-imposed just two weeks later following a surge of the Delta variant.

According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health, the number of daily COVID-19 infections has fallen to around 4,054 since yesterday from more than 15,000 in late March.

The number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients has also dropped, standing at 221 today, 91 of whom are listed in critical condition.

There have been 4,047,693 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Israel since outbreak of the pandemic.

Some 64% of the overall 9.4 million population have been vaccinated, said the ministry. Israel began administering a fourth dose of the vaccine in January as part of its world-leading campaign.

12 people in Israel died of the disease over the past week, bringing the total death toll to 10,658.