Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
Hadassah medical staff members receive their third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, at the Hadassah Medical Center, in Jerusalem, August 15, 2021.

Israel’s Health Ministry announced Sunday that the country is returning to the Purple, Green and general traffic light restrictions that were put into place during the last wave of COVID-19.

Starting in one week, on Sunday August 22, tightened limits will be reimposed on gatherings indoors and outdoors in the Jewish State, the ministry said.

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The Purple Badge rules are back, specifically for malls, shopping centers and any venue 100 square meters or more in capacity that receives the public.

Such locations are required to post the new COVID-19 restrictions and must have a “Coronavirus Manager.”

A Green Pass documenting one’s completion of the vaccination series, and/or recovery from the illness – or, for those having received a negative finding on a PCR test for COVID-19, a 72-hour pass (or 24-hour rapid green pass) – will be required for all individuals ages three and up for entry into the following:

  • sports and cultural events,
  • conferences, exhibitions, conventions,
  • hotels,
  • gyms,
  • pools,
  • festivals,
  • restaurants, bars, cafes, dining rooms,
  • event halls and venues,
  • museums,
  • libraries,
  • tourist attractions, and
  • universities and higher education colleges.

PCR tests for children ages three to 11 will be paid for by the state. PCR tests for those age 12 and up must be paid for by the family.

At mass events without specific reserved seating, the new restrictions cap the number of participants at 1,000 for indoor venues, and 5,000 for outdoor venues.

At private gatherings – including those at home – the restrictions cap participation at 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.

At “event” venues, the caps are higher: 400 participants indoors and 500 participants outdoors.

Regardless, the venue must close entries once 75 percent capacity is reached.

Full-time masks are required indoors (except your home) and in any outdoor gathering of 100 people or more.

Bennett Warns ‘Record Morbidity’ Ahead
Following a visit on Sunday to Tel Aviv Sourasky (Ichilov) Medical Center, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett urged eligible Israelis not to wait any longer, but rather to go get their first, second and/or third shot of vaccine immediately.

“The Delta wave is currently engulfing the entire world, including the State of Israel,” he warned.

“The State of Israel will face record morbidity in the coming weeks; therefore, it was important for me to come here, to Ichilov, to the internal medicine and coronavirus wards, and to stand by the frontline workers, the personnel at internal medicine and corona wards in Israel. We are relying on you, we believe in you and we are going to this battle together,” he said to the hospital staff.

“Tomorrow, we intend to pass the threshold of one million people who have been vaccinated with the third dose…we are [also] opening ten centers throughout the country. We are putting them at the disposal of the citizens of Israel, the only ones in the world who can be inoculated a third time.

“From here, I call on all Israeli citizens over the age of 50: Get vaccinated, today. Not getting inoculated a third time is putting your life in danger. Go to the inoculation centers of all the HMOs, even without an appointment, and they will receive you. Go now,” he urged.

“We can beat the coronavirus pandemic with two main tools: Masks – they work, and the vaccines. Whoever gets vaccinated saves another business. Whoever gets vaccinated saves another child from sitting at home opposite Zoom. Whoever gets vaccinated safeguards the health and economic future of all of us. Therefore, get vaccinated and wear masks,” he said.

Higher Morbidity is Already Here
Morbidity figures in Israel are still rising, which is why the coronavirus cabinet, the Health Ministry and the government have all agreed on the newest set of tightened restrictions.

On Sunday (Aug. 15) at 9:50 pm, the ministry posted its latest figures.

There were 4,176 new cases diagnosed in Israel since midnight Saturday night – and the rest of the tally had not yet been entered – raising the positivity rate to 5.38 percent out of 83,072 tests conducted over the weekend.

There are currently 47,893 active cases of the coronavirus in Israel, including 525 patients listed in serious condition – of those, 124 are listed in critical condition; 91 of those patients are relying on ventilators for survival.

This is the first time the number of patients in serious condition has topped 500 since March and is 162 more “serious” patients than were seen last week, a 31 percent jump.

The death toll in Israel since the start of the pandemic now stands at 6,668 lives lost to the virus.

As of last Friday, Israel began to offer a third booster shot of vaccine to individuals ages 50 and up. Thus far, more than 925,000 people have received a third inoculation.

“Seventy-eight out of 79 patients who died last week had not received a third inoculation,” Bennett said in a tweet. “That is to say that the third vaccine shot is not a luxury: it really saves lives. Not immunizing for a third time leaves senior citizens in mortal danger,” he wrote. “Get vaccinated now. Even without an appointment – they will accept you and inoculate you.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.