Israel to reopen restaurants, hotels, cafes, tourism with select countries from March

In a significant development that marks an attempt to go back to pre-coronavirus pandemic times, officials from Israel said they plan to reopen restaurants around March 9 and restart tourism with Cyprus as part of a gradual return to normality following increased COVID-19 vaccinations.

So far, more than 41% of the country’s population has received at least one shot of Pfizer Inc’s vaccine; Israel has said it will partially reopen hotels and gyms on February 23 to those fully inoculated or deemed immune after recovering from COVID-19.

To gain entry to these sites, beneficiaries will have to present a “Green Pass”, displayed on a Health Ministry app linked to their medical files.

The app’s rollout is scheduled for later this week.

According to Nachman Ash, the national pandemic-response coordinator, the reopening of hotel dining rooms, restaurants and cafes would happen “around March 9”.

“We want to open gradually, carefully so we don’t have another breakout of another wave, and another lockdown,” said Ash to Ynet TV.

On Monday, Israel said it had signed an accord with Greece to ease travel restrictions there on Green Pass-bearing Israelis.

While hosting Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on Sunday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said, there were similar “understandings” on allowing the renewal of flights to Cyprus, which has reported that some 10% of its tourism was from Israel.

So far Israel has not released any dates for the implementation of the deals with Cyprus and Green. Since January 26, Israel has closed nearly all international air traffic as a COVID-19 precaution.

Israel is scheduled to fully inoculate 30% of its 9 million population with the two-dose regimen this month and hopes to cover 50% of its population midst a wider reopening in March 2021.

The COVID-19 vaccine campaign is at the core of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bid to win a fifth term in the March 23 election.

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