Government Calls Off Green Pass for Malls

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Terminal Center shopping mall in the Israeli town Or Yehuda. (Yossi Aloni/FLASH90)

Plans for a Green Pass mandate for shopping malls to start on Friday were suspended Thursday night, after the Cabinet was unable to finalize the measure in time, Ynet reported.

The revised Green Pass program was already in an enforcement limbo on Thursday as police and businesses said they were at a loss as to how to implement it, The Times of Israel reported.

Economy Minister Orna Barbivai told Channel 12 news that “we didn’t want to make a decision from one day to the next.”

Barbivai explained the Cabinet’s hesitation, saying “We want to avoid wide contagion in public places…Israelis are looking at Europe and we’re seeing the Omicron variant spreading in Europe and around the world.”

But at the same time, “nobody wants to cause damage” to the economy with onerous restrictions.

Shoppers at malls would have to present proof of immunization, recovery or a negative coronavirus test to gain entry.

Initially, the plan called for customer to be given a colored band to wear to show they had been checked by digital scanner at the main entrance and were allowed to walk freely in the mall. But that idea elicited defiance from business owners who said they wouldn’t cooperate. If the state wanted to check people coming in, they said the police would have to do it.

So the government backed down. According to Ynet, the colored band scheme has been downgraded from a requirement to a recommendation, and businesses were expected to ignore it without penalty.

It remained unclear, however, how the Green Pass would work if individual stores in a shopping center had no way to check if a customer has been checked at the main entrance.

With plan scheduled to go into effect on Friday, police officials were set to hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss how the rules could be enforced, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

But Tomer Lotan, director-general of the Public Security Ministry which oversees police operation, said that the rules would be hard to enforce.

“The Green Pass [system] is possible when business owners understand the guidelines well, but in this situation it is different,” he told Kan. “We won’t be able to be [in malls] on a regular basis and it is definitely a challenge.”