Possible Sanctions on Non-Vaccinated Workers

Police barrier tape is seen at a shopping center in Ashdod, closed to prevent spread of the pandemic. (REUTERS/Amir Cohen/ FIle Photo)

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Wednesday that he might introduce a bill to prevent people who have not been vaccinated from going to work or teaching in a classroom.

“We are checking legislation that will prevent people who are not vaccinated or who have not been tested in the previous 48 hours from working with the public — for example, to stand before a class full of students,” Edelstein said at a press briefing.

“It is possible that teachers who refuse to be vaccinated will need to pay from their own pocket for private tests every 48 hours,” he continued. “I am not going to fire anyone, but if someone is not vaccinated, then that is their problem.”

At the start of the vaccine campaign, Edelstein said that shots would not be mandatory. While he still did not say anything about directly forcing people to get shots, it was coming close.

The so-called green passports are also meant to serve as an incentive to get vaccinated, as the number of people going to vaccination centers has declined in recent days.

The document that will enable vaccinated people to attend certain public venues and events and potentially travel abroad without quarantine, is supposed to become available soon.

“I strongly advise that anyone who wants to enjoy hotels, gyms, and some cultural events to go and get vaccinated,” Edelstein said, referring to a Health Ministry exit plan that set February 23 as a target date for opening those locations.

Health officials were reportedly looking at a number of options to induce a more pro-vaccine attitude: for example, making it more difficult to get tested, charging for tests, cutting back on testing locations.

As one official told Channel 12, “If they are required to pay a few dozen shekels [for a COVID test] every couple of days so they can enter their workplace, gym or restaurant, it will encourage them to get vaccinated.”

Israel’s Manufacturers Association has asked government officials to be able to put workers who refuse vaccinations on unpaid leave, Channel 12 also said.

Meanwhile, the city of Ranana has taken the audacious step of notifying municipal employees that if they don’t get vaccinated, they will have to come to work in a full protective suit, starting next week. The legality of such an order is questionable, but the threat alone will probably motivate employees to get their shots.

In addition, Mayor Haim Broide told Channel 13 the city would prevent non-vaccinated workers from coming into contact with vaccinated ones.

Regarding Purim, Edelstein said: “In order that Purim doesn’t become a black day for infections, the celebrations need to be reduced,” though he did not go into details, as the government is still at work formulating a plan.

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