By Abba Gwale
Shops, libraries and museums can open but social distancing and masks are still required as Israel eased lockdown restrictions after studies revealed that the Pfizer vaccine is 95.8% effective in preventing hospitalisations and death.
The country has the highest vaccination rate in the world, more than 49% of people have received at least one dose while the health ministry says it is the first stage of returning to normal life
The country entered its third lockdown on 27th December after a resurgence of the virus.
Under the easing measures, people are now able to enter shopping malls and tourist attractions such as zoos.
A number of other facilities are now able to reopen including gyms, hotels and synagogues.
However they require a “green passport”, a certificate that can only be obtained once you have been vaccinated.
A small number of people who have recovered from the virus and are not currently eligible for the vaccine are also able to obtain the certificate.
The passport, which is contained in an app, is issued by the health ministry and will be valid for six months, one week after the second dose .
Crowds are now allowed back at concerts and sporting events have reopened at 75% capacity but they have a cap of no more than 300 people inside and 500 outside .
Despite the easing of restrictions, Israel’s airport will remain closed for another two weeks.
On Saturday, the health ministry said studies revealed the risk of illness from the virus has dropped 95.8% among people who have had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
It also found that the vaccine was 98% effective in preventing fever or breathing problems.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he expects 95% of Israelis over 50 to be vaccinated over the next two weeks.