Israel lifts outdoor mask mandate

Israel lifts outdoor mask mandate
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Israel lifted its outdoor mask mandate on Sunday as conditions improve amid the nation's mass COVID-19 vaccination push, Reuters reported. 

"We are leading the world right now when it comes to emerging from the coronavirus," Israel Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE told reporters, according to the news service.

"[But] we have still not finished with the coronavirus," he added. "It can return."

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Even with the year-long enforced outdoor mask mandate scrapped, Israel's health ministry still requires masks to be worn indoors. 

Reuters noted that 81 percent of Israeli citizens over the age of 16 have received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine while positive rates and hospitalizations have gone down. Palestinians, by comparison, have been receiving vaccine supplies in limited numbers.

Despite the advances, travel by foreigners to Israel is still limited and returning non-immune Israelis have to quarantine, it added. 

According to Reuters, Israel's health ministry said it had recently detected seven cases of a new Indian variant.

 

Israel now plans to have all middle schoolers to return to the classrooms sporadically, as kindergarteners and elementary and high school students have already done, the news service reported, adding that teachers are still required to ventilate their classrooms and to maintain social distancing during school hours.