Israel rescinds outdoor coronavirus mask requirement

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Israel Rescinds Outdoor Coronavirus Mask Requirement
People on the beach in Israel's Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty
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Thomson Reuters

Israel rescinded the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors and fully reopened schools on Sunday in the latest return to relative normality, boosted by a mass-vaccination campaign against the Covid-19 pandemic.

With almost 54 per cent of its 9.3 million population having received both shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, Israel has logged sharp drops in contagion and cases.

The police-enforced wearing of protective masks outdoors, ordered a year ago, was scrapped from Sunday, but the Health Ministry said the requirement still applied for indoor public spaces and urged citizens to keep masks to hand.

With Israeli pre-school, primary and secondary school students already back in class, middle school pupils who had been kept at home or attended class sporadically returned to pre-pandemic schedules.

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The education ministry said that schools should continue to encourage personal hygiene, ventilaton of classrooms and to maintain social distancing as much distance as possible during breaks and lessons.

Israel counts East Jerusalem Palestinians among its population and has been administering the vaccines there.

The 5.2 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Islamist Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have been receiving limited supplies of vaccines provided by Israel, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, the global Covax vaccine-sharing scheme and China.

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