The Israeli cabinet dramatically announced earlier this week a night curfew that would be in effect for weeks spanning all holidays — Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years. Businesses would shut down at 6 or 7 p.m. and gatherings at synagogues, churches and holiday festivals would be prohibited.
The outrage lasted about one day until the decision was dropped and instead, the government decided to open all malls, some 240, across Israel after they had been shut for three months.
No sooner was that decision made than the cabinet floated an idea to impose a ban on visiting other people’s homes throughout the eight nights of Hanukkah (which would presumably also be applied to those celebrating Christmas later in the month).
The back and forth of the cabinet in making and then rescinding decisions, comes as millions of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Israel on Wednesday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pinned public hope of returning to “normal” on the 6 million vaccines he has ordered for the nation of 9 million residents.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu announced a new program that will seek to encourage the public to get the vaccine which arrived to market in a record nine months.
“I asked, and the Health minister is already carrying it out, to develop a ‘green passport’ plan by which whoever receives a vaccine will be able to show a card or an app that will enable them to enter events, malls, facilities and all kinds of services,” he said. “This will also encourage vaccinations and help us to quickly restore normality, to simply change the picture.”
The prime minister did not say whether those without a “green passport” would be restricted from shopping and attending events and “all kinds of services.”
Health officials have been threatening a new lockdown for weeks now based on rising infections rates (which have been hovering around 2 percent of those tested).
Businesses remain subject to restrictions on the number of customers while mask-wearing remains the law outdoors and in all public places until at least Dec. 23 when it is expected to be extended again.