Israel officially ended outdoor mask-wearing with the move set to take effect on Sunday, health officials said.
Almost one year since the onset of the pandemic in the country, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein on Thursday evening instructed Hezi Levi - the director general of his ministry - to sign the order lifting the outdoor mask mandate.
Edelstein's directive came following a recommendation from professionals at the Health Ministry, which emphasized a declining number of new COVID-19 cases. However, masks will still have to be worn in confined spaces for the foreseeable future.
"After the professionals came to the conclusion that [the mask mandate] was no longer needed in an open space, I decided to allow the masks to be removed in accordance with the recommendation," Edelstein said.
"The infection rate in Israel is very low thanks to our successful vaccination campaign, and therefore more easing of restrictions can be offered. I ask you to still be equipped with a mask when entering confined spaces. Together we will keep the infection rate low."
Public Health chief Dr. Alroy-Preis on Tuesday told Ynet the mandate will most likely be removed next week but did not provide a date. She said for the past two weeks over 95% of Israel's local authorities have been designated as "green", indicating low coronavirus infection rate.
"We must still keep the mask in the bag, because the obligation to wear them in confined spaces will continue. We do not know who around us is sick or not, vaccinated or not, and in confined spaces the risk is higher. Therefore, the masks must be with us."