Israeli retailers slam decision to enforce Green Pass at shopping malls

Shop owners assert provisions will severely hurt businesses, with some saying that restrictions will not be observed due to them not being enforceable on a practical level; 'They're using us to pressure the unvaccinated,' says toy store chain owner

Alexandra Lukash|
Israeli retailers on Tuesday lambasted the government following its decision to introduce the Green Pass mandate at shopping malls as a condition for entry.
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  • On Monday, and for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government decided to expand its Green Pass mandate to include shopping malls, restricting access to citizens who are not fully protected against the disease as fears of the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant mount.
    3 View gallery
    Tel Aviv's Dizengof Center
    Tel Aviv's Dizengof Center
    Tel Aviv's Dizengof Center
    (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
    As per a decision by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Israelis will now have to present their Green Pass upon entering a mall. The pass grants access to public accommodations to either those who received three shots of a coronavirus vaccine or those who received two doses or recovered from the virus within the last six months.
    Security guards will scan each shopper's Green Pass and only then allow them to move freely throughout the mall.
    "Nobody is thinking that a mother will vaccinate her children just because they cannot enter the toy store in the mall," said Sharon Berger deputy CEO of the Happening Toys chain.
    "What is going to happen when she goes to a store that isn't located at the mall and has to crowd together with everyone else, what did we achieve with this? The state is simply using the malls as a tool to put pressure on the unvaccinated."
    3 View gallery
    חיסוני ילדים בבית ספר אל זיתון בבועיינה נוג'ידאת
    חיסוני ילדים בבית ספר אל זיתון בבועיינה נוג'ידאת
    A child receives her coronavirus vaccine at a clinic in northern Israel
    (Photo: Efi Shrir)
    Yossi Lagziel, CEO of Rishon Letziyon's HaZahav Mall — Israel's biggest mall, said that the new restrictions will make people hesitant to go to the mall and cause a "heavy blow" to businesses.
    "At the end of the day, people will prefer street shops," he said. "Malls are a secure place that ensures restrictions are adhered to, which is something that is only done at event halls. This decision was made without any thought. It is a miserable decision that will severely hurt Israel's malls."
    Alon Piltz, the owner of Tel Aviv's Dizengof Center, said that malls will not observe the restrictions due to them not being enforceable on a practical level.
    "Dizengof Center alone has over 30 essential businesses so we have to let everyone in regardless," he said. "Holding up people at the entrance will only cause congestions and do more harm than good."
    3 View gallery
    Entry to the Grand Mall in Haifa
    Entry to the Grand Mall in Haifa
    Entry to the Grand Mall in Haifa
    (Photo: Sharon Tsur)
    Piltz said that he also objects to what he described as "discrimination" between malls and open-air shopping centers.
    The new rule is set to take effect on Friday morning. Exemption from the mandate will be given to those who wish to enter malls to access essential services only, such as supermarkets and pharma stores.
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