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Israel: Ministry of Health to Issue “Green Passports” to Those Who Vaccinate against or Have Recovered from Coronavirus

(Jan. 11, 2021) On January 4, 2021, the Ministry of Health (MOH) presented to the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) for its consideration a new app that would allow persons who have been vaccinated against or have recovered from the coronavirus to enter certain places and engage in certain activities. The new app contains a “green passport” that would enable users to participate in “one-time events,” such as cultural events, sporting events, and conferences. The green passport could also be provided in printed format. According to a committee press release, the passport was not expected to be required “in the education system, employment places, street shops, public transportation and houses of worship. [The passport’s use] in restaurants and cafes, shopping malls, hotels, gyms and swimming pools was still under consideration.”

The green passport would be provided to qualified persons after they receive the second dose of the coronavirus vaccination or a negative coronavirus test result and would remain in effect for six months after the date of issue. To obtain the passport, users would be required to disclose their phone number, ID number, and date of birth, but not their medical information.

Restrictions on crowding and occupancy inside buildings, however, would continue, according to the committee, regardless of the issue of green passports, and would depend on population morbidity.

According to Prof. Nachman Ash, the National Coronavirus Commissioner at the Ministry of Health, the green passport was intended to enable the population to reach herd immunity through vaccination while promoting and accelerating the reopening of industries. Ash clarified that the green passport differed from the vaccination certificate: while the vaccination certificate was intended to exempt vaccinated persons from the duty to quarantine after being exposed to diagnosed patients or returning from “red states”—countries with high rates of infection—the green passport would serve as “a sign of entry to activities.”

On January 5, 2021, the MOH clarified to Israeli hospitals and health insurance funds that a green passport could be issued only by the MOH. Any promise for relief or benefits associated with the green passport would be determined centrally by the MOH and not by any other body. The MOH would provide details to the funds and hospitals at a later stage.