Israel will be able to reopen its malls and gyms in two weeks' time for Israelis who had been had received both doses of the vaccine, according to an outline presented by health officials on Tuesday.
The Health Ministry presented a three-stage lockdown exit plan to the coronavirus cabinet, which includes the reopening of the education system, commerce and entertainment. The government lifted some of the lockdown restrictions at the start of this week.
Coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman Ash presented the outline to the lawmakers.
The first stage, which began on Sunday, includes the reopening of the education system for kindergartens and children in grades 1-4 in "green," yellow" and "orange" municipalities if 70% of over 50% in those areas had been vaccinated. The government unanimously approved the measure at the start of the meeting.
Grades 11-12 will continue to learn remotely, while schools in "red" municipalities will remain closed. However, the outline says front studies are possible for all age groups across all municipalities if they are conducted outside in small groups.
The second stage, which is set to begin on Feb. 23, will see the return of grades 5-6 to schools, as well as reopening of street shops to all public. The outline also proposes the reopening of malls, shopping centers, gyms, event halls, sports venues, museums, galleries, libraries, and hotels with no dining areas.
The businesses will be opened to Israelis who had already received their second dose of the vaccine or recovered from coronavirus.
The second stage is conditioned on the fact that three million Israelis will have been vaccinated with their second dose by the time it begins, including 90% of over 50s, less than 900 serious patients and a virus reproduction number lower than 1.
The third and final stage, which is set to begin on Mar. 3, will see grades 7-10 return to schools in all low- to mid-level infection cities. Cafes and small restaurants will also reopen to all public, including those not vaccinated.
Entry to restaurants (with a prior reservation), hotels with dining areas, event halls, attractions and conferences will still only be permitted to those who had received their second vaccine dose or have recovered from coronavirus.
"We have a very small margin of error when reopening the economy, and it all depends on how we can control morbidity and move forward with the vaccination campaign," said Ash. "All of these should be implemented with the utmost responsibility - with masks and limits on gatherings still in place."
"There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but there are still challenges ahead. I hope that with responsible behavior we will achieve these goals and move forward."
Ministers were set to meet again on Thursday to debate the lifting of restrictions for commerce.