'Green passports will be a means to manage daily life' says government's COVID czar

Passports to be required for entrance to large number of public venues.

Y Rabinovitz ,

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Passport
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The government yesterday disclosed further ways in which those people who take part in Israel's Covid-19 vaccination operation will benefit.

“To achieve herd immunity in the State of Israel, we’re talking about 70 percent [of the population] vaccinated. The green passport is a means that we want to use to manage daily life as the number of people who have recovered from the virus increases,” Professor Nachman Ash, the government’s coronavirus project manager told the Knesset’s Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee.

Ministry officials later expanded further on what they had in mind, telling MKs that the passport would likely be required for entrance to cultural and sports events, museums, hotels, restaurants and cafes, malls, gyms, and swimming pools. However, it would not be required for entrance to schools, workplaces, synagogues, street stores; or for using public transportation.

Officials stated that the purpose of the passports was to encourage vaccination and to enable the government to reopen the economy.

"Restrictions on the size of public gatherings and on occupancy of public spaces will continue", they added, "these will be dependent on the rate of infection in the general population.”

According to Ash, certain venues will also be accessible to those who can provide proof that they are not carrying the coronavirus, even if they are not vaccinated. “Whoever was vaccinated or has recovered [and can provide an immunity certificate] will be able to enter places … whoever wasn’t, can do a test instead,” he said.

However, vaccination will confer enhanced benefits such as exemption from quarantine requirements following travel abroad. The Health Ministry stated that it plans to issue a special document for those who have received both vaccine shots, valid for six months following the second dose. Those who merely test negative for the virus would be able to obtain a temporary passport valid for just 72 hours.

According to the deputy director-general of the Health Ministry, Prof. Itamar Grotto, the main factor delaying the plan to issue passports was the necessity of ensuring that faked documents did not begin to circulate. Green passports are likely to be in the form of a smartphone application, or possibly voice recognition, but there will also be an option to print out a document for the holder.

Other countries have also begun to discuss the concept of passports that will benifit those who have been vaccinated, albeit more tentatively.

“We could follow Israel’s example by giving each person who gets the vaccine a green passport,” said an MP in the French Parliament last month, quoted by Connexion France. “This would allow them to go into cultural spaces, restaurants… basically, to resume normal life.”

In the United Kingdom, however, senior government minister Michael Gove insisted that, “That’s not the plan,” when asked about issuing a special passport. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” he said, promising that “of course… [businesses would] have the capacity to make decisions about who they will admit and why.”

All the same, when questioned on the government’s intentions, junior health minister Nadhim Zahawi told the BBC that, “We are looking at the technology.”

He added that, “I think you’ll probably find that … the pressure will come from both ways, from service providers who’ll say, ‘Look, demonstrate to us that you have been vaccinated.’”



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