The coronavirus cabinet late on Tuesday decided that school students would return to distance learning in local authorities with low vaccination rates in the wake of the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
The decision that requires the approval of the Knesset Education Committee, will be implemented first for grades 7-12 and for elementary schools three weeks later.
According to the decision, children will switch to remote studies if less than 70% of the population at a particular local authority has been fully vaccinated.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the end of the meeting that the decision has the backing of the Education Ministry but the ministry's chief Yifat Shasha-Biton disagreed with his assessment.
"We did not agree on distance learning for elementary school kids unless there is a 70% vaccination rate. Leaving children at home will cause damage," she said.
In response, Bennett said there was time to reach the minimum vaccination rate required to avoid distance learning.
The cabinet also decided to increase restrictions on shopping malls under the purple pass outline, limiting capacity in shops to one person for every 15 meters (50 feet) in shops larger than 100 meters, (328 feet) with employees required to be fully vaccinated or show negative PCR tests.
Food halls and stalls inside malls will not be allowed to offer seating and be limited to serving take-away meals only, and in restaurants inside the malls, entry will be for Green Pass holders only.
Ministers in the coronavirus cabinet voted to end government funding for coronavirus rapid testing for children under the age of 11 – in order to allow then entry under Green Pass restrictions
In a discussion on the slow rate of vaccination of children, Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar suggested a monetary incentive of NIS 1,000 for families. Bennett said the matter is worth consideration.
First published: 08:40, 12.22.21