Israel to end Covid-19 restrictions from June after vaccine success

New cases fell to just 12 on Saturday, down from a daily peak of more than 10,000 in January

Vaccinated Israelis and tourists get tested for Covid-19 upon arrival at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport. AFP 
Vaccinated Israelis and tourists get tested for Covid-19 upon arrival at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport. AFP 

Israel is to end local Covid-19 restrictions, following a successful vaccine rollout that has nearly stamped out new infections, its health ministry said on Sunday.

Most of the population have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Among over-50s, who are more at risk, 92 per cent have been inoculated or have recovered from the virus.

The country reported just 12 new virus cases on Saturday – down from a daily peak of more than 10,000 in January.

Israel has been gradually reopening its economy after three lockdowns.

Curbs on higher-risk activities and limits on how many people can gather in a specific area remain, with a government-issued “Green Pass” that indicates immunity post-vaccination or recovery from Covid-19, allowing greater freedom.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Sunday he will not extend the arrangement, meaning the restrictions and the Green Pass system will be revoked from the start of June.

"The economy and the citizens of Israel will get extra room to breathe," he said, but also warned that restrictions they could be re-imposed should the situation change.

Israel will still keep its borders closed to most incoming travellers, though it has started to let in small groups of vaccinated tourists.

The health ministry will also re-examine the requirement to wear face masks in enclosed spaces.

Updated: May 24, 2021 11:59 AM

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