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Israelis No Longer Required to Wear Masks Outside as COVID Falls Back

How Israel has decided to not wear masks in open.

Swati Sharma
Israel wins over Corona
Israel wins over Corona

Israel is again beating back the Covid-19 Pandemic, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein declared on April 14 that, starting from April 18, Israelis will, no longer, be required to wear masks on face while going outside.

In an official statement, he said, Country's Independence Day celebrations were coming to an end; Edelstein said he had instructed Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy to sign a decree ending the health regulation as of Sunday consulting with ministry professionals. Masks will still be required in closed public spaces.

"The masks are required to protect us from the coronavirus," Edelstein said. "After professionals marked this was no longer required in open spaces, I decided to enable taking them off."

He credited Israel's successful vaccination campaign but called for ongoing vigilance inside.

For weeks, health professionals had been saying the mask mandate outside would likely end soon, but reaching the milestone will doubtless be a moving moment for many Israelis, who over the past year have become used to seeing little more than each other's eyes while out on the streets.

Earlier this month, Levy was still skeptical and cautioned against lifting the mandate, arguing the use of masks outdoors effectively curbed the spread of COVID-19.

Media reports in recent weeks indicated that police had at any rate instructed to stop enforcing the outdoor mask mandate, with the focus instead on enforcement against those who violate quarantine rules.

After suffering a severe third wave of the pandemic, Israel's situation has rapidly improved in recent months, as it has carried out the world's fastest per capita vaccination drive. Over half of the population is fully inoculated against the virus, and the results have shown. Daily new cases and severe cases are dropping to levels not seen in long months.


No need to wear mask in open areas
No need to wear mask in open areas

As the caseload has dropped, Israel has significantly rolled back coronavirus restrictions by opening businesses, event venues, and other activities.

A top expert on the pandemic said on April 18 that Israel might have reached "a sort of herd immunity" and could safely ease further restrictions. Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, told Channel 12 that with most Israelis immunized, even the reopening of swaths of the economy and gatherings over the Purim and Passover holidays had not contributed to a spike in cases.

This week, cabinet ministers voted to fully reopen Israeli schools starting from April 18, ending the requirement that some grades still learn in smaller class sizes. Children in grades 5-9 had been the only remaining students required to study in socially distanced "capsules" or pods.

According to the latest Health Ministry figures released on April 15 Thursday evening, 196 new coronavirus cases were recorded on April 14 and another 91 since midnight, with 836,706 total infections confirmed since the pandemic began. The death toll stood at 6,314.

There were 2,945 active cases, including 209 patients in serious condition; 126 were on ventilators. Of the 55,470 tests performed on April 14, 0.4% came back positive.

The ministry also said 5,338,967 Israelis had received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose, and 4,961,238 have received two shots.

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