Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Sunday that if there is no spike in Israel’s coronavirus infection rate in the next few days, the indoor mask mandate will be lifted on June 15.
Israel lifted its mask mandate for outdoor spaces and fully reopened its schools on April 18, which was possible due to the world's fastest vaccination campaign against the COVID-19 pandemic that has seen its infection rates plummet.
"After some discussions we came to the conclusion that if there is no deterioration in [COVID] indices and infection rate, on June 15 we will seek to scrap the obligation to wear masks indoors," said Edelstein during a ceremony honoring outstanding members of the health system for their contribution in the fight against coronavirus.
"In the meantime, we want to keep the masks on," he said, adding the lifting of the mask mandate will not include schools.
The health minister also praised Israel's high-paced vaccination campaign and subsequent rapid drop in new virus cases, which he said the experts warned were impossible to achieve.
"For over a year we have been dealing with the pandemic that has not been seen for a century. We, in the health care system, together with the whole of the State of Israel, improved our capabilities and became the first fully vaccinated country in the world."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also gave a speech at the event and praised Israel's vaccination campaign as well. "This is what victory looks like - hundreds of Israelis sit in confined spaces with masks on and enjoy it. We went back to smiling. Israel smiles because Israel wins."
Netanyahu also confirmed the expansion of the vaccination campaign for children aged 12 to 16, which began earlier in the morning.
"This is great news for the State of Israel. It guarantees official herd immunity," he said.