Health Ministry to push for return of Green Passport system

'Fatal blow for tourism industry.' Businesses worried as Health Ministry poised to back full green pass system, quarantine for all travelers

Tags: Coronavirus
David Rosenberg ,

Concert attendee waits for Green Pass authorization to enter
Concert attendee waits for Green Pass authorization to enter
Miriam Alster/FLASH90

The Israeli Health Ministry is expected to press the government to fully reimpose the green passport (Tav Yarok) system for limiting entry to certain venues, along with a sweeping requirement for quarantine on all air travelers.

While Israel partially restored ‘green pass’ rules on some indoor mass gatherings starting Wednesday morning, the Health Ministry is drawing up recommendations for a full return to the green pass system, applying the restrictions on entry to a wide variety of venues.

As of Wednesday, the new restrictions apply only to events with over 100 attendees, requiring that those entering the venue either show a valid vaccine card, certificate of recovery, or a negative COVID test from less than 72 hours prior to the event.

But the Health Ministry is looking to expand those rules to a wide variety of smaller gatherings and other venues. While the details of the proposal have yet to be finalized, the recommendation could span a host of venues including restaurants, hotels, and gyms, in line with the original green pass system used earlier this year.

The Health Ministry is also weighing a plan to expand the full isolation requirement for travelers to all passengers arriving in Israel, regardless of their COVID test status.

Business leaders, particularly those linked to the tourism industry, have decried the possible restrictions.

Uri Sirkis, CEO of the Israir airline, said the new restrictions would be a fatal blow for the tourism and travel industries, which are struggling to recover after three lockdowns.

“The Health Ministry’s proposals for full isolation on everyone would just wipe out our industry,” Sirkis was quoted by Israel Hayom as saying. “We’re after a year and a half when we had three lockdowns and Operation Guardian of the Walls,” he added, referring to Israel’s conflict with the Hamas terrorist organization in May 2021. “It is uncertain whether we’ll be able to survive another blow like this.”

Amid internal divisions within the government, the Coronavirus Cabinet, which is set to weigh in on new possible restrictions, has yet to announce the time of its next meeting.

On Wednesday morning, the new guidelines for event halls, clubs, and conferences went into effect, limiting entry to indoor events with over 100 attendees.

Events which take place partly in the open air and partly indoors will be required to adhere to the rules for indoor events.

In addition, every public place and business, including those which do not operate in accordance with the "Green Pass," are prohibited from allowing entry or providing service to those who do not wear masks, and are required to prominently display signs regarding the requirement to wear masks. In addition, those places which have a loudspeaker system are required to announce the mask requirement via the loudspeaker.

Negative coronavirus tests for Green Pass purposes must be performed within 72 hours of entrance to a location; rapid tests will be valid for 24 hours.