Israel’s government is increasing the pressure on people who have been vaccinated twice against Covid-19 amid high infection numbers.
From Sunday onwards, the so-called Green Pass, which facilitates access to public life, will only be valid for up to six months after the second vaccination.
After this period, a third shot is necessary as a booster.
However, due to technical problems with the renewal of the Green Pass, the Ministry of Health announced on Sunday that the validity of the old pass would be extended by a few days after all.
Even those who have tested positive for the coronavirus must still receive a vaccination six months later at the latest.
According to Health Ministry figures, more than 1 million people could be affected by the new regulation.
The Green Pass is necessary to access almost all areas of public life in Israel: everyone aged 3 and over must prove that they have been vaccinated, have recovered from a Covid-19 infection or tested negative if they want to visit sporting or cultural events, gyms, museums, restaurants, universities or conferences.
Children up to the age of 12 can be tested free of charge.
According to the Ministry of Health, about 61 per cent of the approximately 9.4 million inhabitants have been vaccinated twice, about 37 per cent three times. The prerequisite for the third shot is that the second vaccination was at least five months ago.
At the end of July, Israel became the first country in the world to start giving out third vaccinations.
The background to the decision is figures from the Ministry of Health, according to which the effectiveness of the vaccination has declined sharply since the beginning of June.
Sharp criticism of the new regulation came from the Israeli Teachers’ Association.
As of this Sunday, teachers without the Green Pass who do not want to be tested for the coronavirus will be excluded from teaching. The teachers will also not be allowed to teach online and will not receive a salary.
“We are talking about 50 per cent of the teachers, which is about 80,000,” said Ran Eres, president of the teachers’ association.
At the beginning of September, Israel registered more than 11,000 new infections per day, the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic.
Since then, the number of infections has been slowly declining.