Masking Outdoors to End in Israel

Outdoor masking in the Old City of Yerushalayim. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash9)

Israel is set to enter the next phase of its Covid exit on Sunday, when masks will no longer be required outdoors.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein announced on Thursday evening that he directed ministry director-general Chezy Levy to sign a decree ending the health regulation, after consulting with professional staff.

Masks will still be required in closed public spaces until further notice.

The decision had been coming for some days. Corona commissioner Prof. Nahman Ash said recently that Israelis could go without masks on streets that were empty, even though regulations hadn’t been changed yet, in view of the dwindling infection rate.

Police had at any rate been instructed to stop enforcing the outdoor mask mandate, shifting their focus instead on enforcement of quarantine rules, according to media reports.

According to Health Ministry figures released Thursday evening, 196 new coronavirus cases were recorded Wednesday, with 836,699 total infections confirmed since the pandemic began.

The death toll stood at 6,314.

There were 2,984 active cases, including 209 patients in serious condition, 126 of whom were on ventilators.

Of the 55,470 tests performed Sunday, 0.4% came back positive.

The ministry also said 5,338,967 Israelis have received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose and 4,961,238 have received two shots.