The Health Ministry said Tuesday that it is currently not planning to ease the mandatory use of face masks in public spaces, despite the new guidelines published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The new CDC recommendations issued Monday state that Americans who received have both doses of the two-stage coronavirus vaccine do not need to wear face masks or observe social distancing rules during indoor gatherings with other fully vaccinated individuals or those unlikely to develop severe COVID symptoms, such as young people.
But the Health Ministry is maintaining the existing policy despite Israel’s successful vaccination campaign that has seen more than 5 million of the 9 million population receive at least the first dose of the vaccine.
"At this stage, there is no plan to change rules regarding mandatory face masks in Israel or any steps pertaining to those vaccinated," a ministry spokesperson said Tuesday.
"The ministry is closely following information on the risk of infection for those vaccinated and will update its policy accordingly."
The Health Ministry has stood by its mask-wearing regulations since the onset of the the coronavirus pandemic in Israel back in March 2020. Recently however, coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman said that he believes the effectiveness of face masks outdoors is limited.
While this led some to believe that a change in policy was indeed underway, experts from the ministry's Management Team of Epidemics have made it clear that a revision of mask regulations is not currently on the agenda.
"My position is that the masks will remain for as long as not all adults are vaccinated and children are not vaccinated at all and there is a potential danger of vaccine-resistant variants invading Israel," said Dr. Leon Folls, a member of the Management Team of Epidemics.
"I estimate that masks will be mandatory until the end of 2021 at least. Even after the pandemic is over, I would recommend using masks every winter due to the dramatic decrease we have seen in non-COVID winter infections."
i24NEWS contributed to this article