Coronavirus czar said Monday that Israel could reach a herd immunity when at least seven million Israelis are vaccinated against coronavirus.
In an interview with Ynet, Prof. Nachman Ash said that all remaining restrictions on movement could be lifted by the summer if the current infection trend continues.
Prof. Ash said that no additional restrictions are expected to be imposed ahead of the upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover. "Festivities this year will be safer due to the high number of inoculated. People will be able to celebrate with their families – up to 20 people indoors and 50 outdoors."
He admitted that wearing face masks during holiday meals would be "unpractical," but warned that people should still take precautions. "If a family member feels unwell before the holiday, he should go get tested, but everybody else should be fine," he said.
Prof. Ash said Israel might start vaccinating children before the FDA approval and will make a decision on the matter once Pfizer's trials are completed, which he added are set to end in a month or two.
The professor added that at this point officials are not planning increasing the number of people who can enter sporting events, restaurants and clubs, saying more data is needed to make the decision.
"It is currently not on the table, but it will definitely be mulled over later on, we just want to be cautious and make sure the current exit plan works, especially in facilities intended for Green Pass holders. I have heard reports these places are not adhering to protocol and that is a problem. We will see what the results are, but there are no plans as of now to increase capacities," he said.
He said, however, that an outline is being drafted to allow Israelis to fly abroad, but added the variables such as quarantine and new COVID variants are complicating the decision-making process.
"As long as we do not have a solution for enforcing quarantine [for travelers], which we are working on, it will be very difficult to open the airport any further," he said.
"If we'll have enough electric tracking devices, more people will be able to go on a vacation abroad. I hope that by the summer we will be able to fly again. It also depends on bilateral entry agreements, which we will be able to discuss once infection rate drops further globally."
Ash also confirmed that officials are discussing minimize the scope of coronavirus testing across the country.
"About 20% of those who arrive at testing facilities are vaccinated, which I do not think is justified," he said. "We are thinking of a mechanism where [those who wish to get tested] are referred to take a test not by a personal physician and but still through their HMO. We still do not know when we are going to do this."
Prof. Ash also said he had spoked with Health Ministry Director General Prof. Hezi Levi, who told his he is not planning to quit his post - as some sources claimed earlier. However, he said that if the position will open in the future, he might consider taking it.