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April 19, 2021

Israel drops outdoor COVID mask order

Top Story

April 19, 2021

JERUSALEM: Israelis went about barefaced on Sunday after the order to wear masks outdoors was rescinded in another step towards relative normality thanks to the country’s mass-vaccination against COVID-19, a British wire service reported. With about 81% of citizens or residents over 16 - the age group eligible for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Israel - having received both doses, contagions and hospitalisations are down sharply. But entry by foreigners is still limited and non-immune Israelis who return from abroad must self-isolate, due to concern virus variants could challenge the vaccine.

The Health Ministry said it had detected seven cases of a new Indian variant in Israel, whose potency was being assessed.

"We are leading the world right now when it comes to emerging from the coronavirus," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters. "(But) we have still not finished with the coronavirus. It can return."