Enforcement of the new Green Pass system will begin on Thursday, but businesses that require the document to be accessed will need to start scanning the barcode from Tuesday, the coronavirus cabinet decided on Sunday.
Only museums and municipal libraries will be exempt from enforcement.
The cabinet, which convened for the first time in over a month, did not vote on the Health Ministry’s recommendation to abolish the system for several outdoor activities.
“The good news is that we are starting to block the Delta variant, but right now it’s dangerous to relax,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said while opening the meeting. “When the virus begins to recede, we must not allow it to resurge.”
Bennett said that the Israeli public was beginning to understand the government’s strategy and its goal: to keep the country as open as possible but at the same time to pursue measures such as vaccination, masks and mass testing.
During the meeting, the government officials discussed the current situation, including a report by Hebrew University experts attesting to a decline in cases in all sectors.
Earlier in the day, the Health Ministry extended the validity of the current Green Pass until Thursday as both the “traffic light” website and app where Israelis can download their new pass crashed due to an overload of traffic.
According to the new rules that came into effect on Sunday, only people who were inoculated with a booster, received their second dose or recovered, all within the previous six months, or got a shot after recovering from the disease can obtain the Green Pass.
As a result, over 1.5 million Israelis lost their eligibility – also considering that the document is only valid a full week after the second or booster shot.
The Green Pass grants access to several venues and activities, as well as to some workplaces. A temporary one can be obtained by undergoing a test.
All individuals who are eligible are required to download the new document. According to the ministry, by 5 p.m. around 1.03 million green passes had already been obtained.
Also on Sunday, the number of serious patients dropped to 575, confirming the trend downward.
Some 1,709 new cases were registered on Saturday, the lowest figure in over a month, out of about 113,000 people screened.
Overall, the country has about 38,000 active cases, less than half as much as the peak of the fourth wave in August.
Around 22,000 of the active cases were registered among school children after schools fully reopened on Thursday after the Jewish holidays.
Another 70,000 students were in isolation after been exposed to a verified patient.
In the next two weeks, the Health and Education ministries are set to finish testing the Green Class program to drastically change the quarantine requirements in schools. If the new outline is approved, only children who are infected will need to remain at home, while those who come in contact with a case will undergo a PCR test, a rapid test every day for a week and then another PCR test – but will be able to continue to attend school in person unless they test positive.
“Our next and most urgent task in my eyes is to put an end to the mass isolations in schools as soon as possible,” Bennett said. “We are currently preparing an infrastructure of millions of antigen tests that will enable us to do it. We will follow the pilot and other pilots that have begun in recent days, and we will make a decision soon.”
The cabinet also discussed how to improve the vaccination rate in the Arab sector.