Israel Retightens Coronavirus Rules

YERUSHALAYIM -
A view of the Malcha Mall, an indoor shopping center in the Yerushalayim neighborhood of Malcha. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

The Israeli government announced a retightening of coronavirus regulations on Tuesday amid fears of the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and other health officials decided on the measures after a meeting on Tuesday evening.

A “Green Pass,” indicating up-to-date vaccination or recovery from the virus, will be required for entry into closed shopping malls of 10,000 square meters or more.

Security guards will use digital scanners to check each customer’s pass. Those who are allowed entry will be given a colored band indicating that the wearer may walk freely within the mall. The color is to be changed on a daily basis,

Unvaccinated people will only be allowed into essential businesses, such as pharmacies, inside malls.

Israeli travelers returning from “red” countries who are vaccinated will be required to quarantine at home, and unvaccinated arrivals will need to quarantine in designated hotels.

The new rules are to go into effect on Friday.

Initial reaction to the decision from mall owners on Tuesday night was not favorable. While they prepare to challenge the new regulations in court, some were saying that they will not cooperate, and will not direct their security guards to check vaccination status.

“If you want someone to check people outside the malls, send the police, border police, special forces. We will not label people and we won’t have our security guards do it, we will serve anyone regardless of race, gender or label,” they say, according to Channel 13 news.