Israel tightens coronavirus restrictions as new cases surge

There will be limits on people gathering indoors and entry to restaurants will require a 'Green Pass'

Israel’s government on Wednesday introduced new coronavirus restrictions, including a digital vaccine passport and tighter limits on mass gatherings.

The country that appeared to put the coronavirus pandemic behind it a few months ago after a world-leading vaccine drive is now reimposing regulations as new cases of the highly infectious Delta strain soar.

The Cabinet gave its approval for the tighter measures including limits on people gathering indoors and restricting entry to venues and restaurants to “Green Pass” holders.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the government would be “giving a booster” to the country’s healthcare system as new coronavirus cases continue to climb.

Mr Bennett said Israel had to prepare for the possibility of mass hospital admissions, and was allocating 2.5 billion shekels ($774 million) to help boost capacity at medical centres nationwide.

The Israeli Health Ministry recorded 5,755 new cases on Wednesday, the highest daily figure since February, and serious cases have grown from 19 in mid-June to 400.

At least 6,580 Israelis have died from coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, ministry figures show.

The government had largely lifted coronavirus restrictions by May after its vaccine drive, but it has since reinstated limits on assemblies and made wearing masks indoors obligatory.

More than 58 per cent of the country’s 9.3 million citizens have received two doses of Pfizer/BioNTech's vaccine.

Israel had secured a large supply of the vaccines in exchange for medical data.

This month the country starting giving third vaccine doses to immuno-suppressed people and those over the age of 60.

Updated: August 11th 2021, 10:08 PM