CORONAVIRUS

Israel scraps indoor COVID-19 mask order for second time

Israelis have not had to wear masks outdoors since April 2021

In Summary

•Israelis have not had to wear masks outdoors since April 2021

•Masks will still be required of people in high infection-risk venues like flights, hospitals and care homes.

A man wearing a face mask, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19),
A man wearing a face mask, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19),
Image: REUTERS

Israel told its citizens on Wednesday they could stop wearing COVID-19 masks indoors, its second such revision after the measure was briefly dropped and then restored last year in response to a rise in cases.

The scrapping of mandatory masks in closed public venues will go into force on Saturday, subject to approval by a parliament oversight committee, a government statement said.

Masks will still be required of people in high infection-risk venues like flights, hospitals and care homes, the statement said.

Israelis have not had to wear masks outdoors since April 2021. Last June, the indoor mask mandate was dropped for two weeks, and restored due to a surge in the Delta variant.

The number of daily COVID-19 infections reported to Israeli health authorities has fallen to around 4,500 from more than 15,000 in late March.

The number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients has also dropped, standing at 222 on Tuesday compared with 296 in late March, according to health ministry figures.

Some 64% of Israel's 9.4 million inhabitants are considered to be vaccinated, the ministry said. Israel began administering a fourth dose of the vaccine in January. Israel's total death toll from the pandemic stands at 10,647 people.