Green Pass
Green PassYonatan Sindel/Flash90

In another eight days, the Green Pass is due to expire and senior officials in the Health Ministry will have to make the decision as to whether to extend its use or not, with many calling for it to be scrapped. Within the Health Ministry itself, officials are divided into three camps regarding what to do: abolish it entirely; extend it with more lenient terms; or change its terms into those of the Purple Tag, placing caps on occupancy levels rather than distinguishing between those who are vaccinated and those who are not.

Within the medical profession, there are more and more experts who argue that the epidemiological necessity for the Green Pass is fading away, in light of the massive spread of contagion of the Omicron variant among the vaccinated population, even among those who have had four doses of vaccine. As such, the working assumption that being in a locale where Green Pass restrictions apply is safe, is no longer true. Until recently, those promoting this position were on the fringes of the healthcare establishment; now, such statements are being heard more and more from mainstream voices, including Prof. Ran Balicer, head of the government’s expert taskforce on coronavirus, and Prof. Galia Rahav.

The Health Ministry is still cautious, however, not wishing to entirely ditch the program and preferring to place it on a back burner, just in case it’s needed again for “the next variant that comes along.” The options being considered by government officials include abolishing Green Pass restrictions for gatherings that are not deemed dangerous such as those where there is no food served and no dancing. Another option is to only apply Green Pass restrictions to much larger gatherings – right now, the restrictions come into play from 100 people and upward. A third option, that of extending the Pass as it is, does not have many supporters – one of them, however, is Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman.

MK Gilad Kariv, head of the Knesset’s Constitution Committee, has stated that he will promote the option of turning Green Pass restrictions into Purple Tag ones. Kariv argues that distinctions should no longer be made between those who are vaccinated and those who are not, but rather between large gatherings and smaller ones, as this is what is more relevant during the “Omicron era.” He notes that there remains a need to encourage people to be vaccinated, primarily children and young people, but has stated that it should now become a personal decision and not the criterion for excluding people from public spaces. Kariv adds that some public spaces may continue to have Green Pass restrictions applied to them, but only a very few in number.

During the coming week, the Health Ministry will be holding a great number of meetings on the issue before reaching a final decision. There are some, however, who believe that cancelling the obligation for schoolchildren to enter quarantine following contact with a confirmed virus carrier will act to prolong the current wave of the virus, making it harder to reach a decision on the Green Pass.