Green Corridor, vaccinated, allows us to go to concerts, restaurants and sporting events. But Israel’s real-time experience of living after the closure leaves many questions unanswered.
TEL AVIV – As the lights dimmed and the music started playing, an audible sound wave of excitement spread across the crowd. Someone above me a few rows away roared with joy, as if at a Middle Eastern wedding.
I had come to the Bloomfield Football Stadium in Tel Aviv to attend a concert by Degla, an Israeli singer of Iraqi and Egyptian descent, whom the city hailed as a celebration of “the return of culture.” This was my first live show in over a year. There were only 500 Israelis vaccinated at the stadium, which normally holds close to 30,000 people, but it felt strange and exhilarating to be in a crowd of any size after a year of intermittent closure.
The audience was confined to their distant seats socially, dancing in their places and singing through their masks. But the weather was overwhelming and confirmed my status as a member of a new privileged class: fully vaccinated.
We are a group of more than half IsraelNine million people, a taste of the post-pandemic future.
Class membership is certified by Green Pass, which is a document that you can download and upload to your phone. It includes a kind of GIF, animated little gif of green people walking along, looking like a happy, fully fortified family.
The Israeli vaccination program was remarkably fast and successful.
In recent weeks, New cases From your Covid-19 Dramatically reduced, From a peak of 10,000 per day in January to a few hundred by late March. The economy has almost completely reopened. Just as Israel has become Real-world lab for efficacy From the vaccine, it is now a test case for the post-lockdown and post-vaccination community.
The Green Corridor is your entry ticket.
Green Pass holders can dine indoors in restaurants, stay in hotels, and attend indoor and outdoor cultural, sports and religious gatherings in the thousands. We can go to gyms, swimming pools and theater. We can get married in wedding halls.
we Celebrate the spring holidays Easter and Easter in the company of family and friends.
Local newspapers and TV stations advertise summer holidays for fully vaccinated people in countries ready to receive them, including Greece, Georgia and the Seychelles.
And when you book a table at a restaurant, they ask, “Do you have a green corridor?” Have you been vaccinated?
The system is incomplete, and unlike the Green Corridor, the “system” may be overestimated in many ways. Enforcement was incomplete. There are troubling questions about those who haven’t been vaccinated and raucous discussions raging in real time – some landing in court – about the rules and responsibilities of returning to near normal.
Moreover, there is no guarantee that this is truly the beginning of a post-pandemic future. Any number of factors – the delay in producing the vaccine, the emergence of a new type of vaccine resistant and the huge numbers of Israelis who have not been vaccinated – can tear the rug underneath.
The New World has also emphasized inequality and divisions among societies that have access to a vaccine in one form or another.
Friends and colleagues in the West Bank and Gaza have not yet been vaccinated.
The Palestinian vaccination campaign began with large doses donated by other countries amid a bitter debate about Israel’s legal and moral obligations towards the health of people in the territories it occupies. Israel has vaccinated some 100,000 Palestinians working in Israel or in West Bank settlements, but has been criticized for not doing more.
More than 5.2 million Israelis have received at least one injection of the Pfizer vaccine. About four million remain unvaccinated, half of whom are people under the age of 16 who are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine, pending regulatory approvals and more testing on children. Hundreds of thousands of citizens who have recently recovered from Covid disease have been included in the Israeli vaccination program.
Up to a million people have so far chosen not to be vaccinated, despite Israel’s enviable supplies of vaccine doses.
Some are opposed to being vaccinated on ideological grounds while others are said to be anxious and waiting to see the effect of the vaccine on others. They generated little public sympathy, and health officials have criticized them for giving in to what they described as the fake news that spread on social media.
Rejectionists raise difficult ethical and legal questions. Should they have the right to join the world as well? Is it ethical to discriminate against them? Or is it fair to force those who did everything in their power to protect themselves through vaccination to share a space with people who chose not to do so?
These questions erupted when another artist, Achinoam Nini, the prominent singer-songwriter of the stage name Noa, announced a show for Green Pass holders only, in a respected hall in Tel Aviv.
A small but vocal minority of vaccinators and others accused her of collaborating with a discriminatory regime and supporting medical trials and coercion.
One critic, Roy Sorek, wrote, borrowing terms from the Holocaust: “You cooperate with the choice.” “You are cooperating with a medical dictatorship and trampling individual rights.”
Mrs. Nene responded on enthusiastic Facebook Mail That vaccination was for the common good, a balance between public health and personal freedom, part of the social contract and a civic duty just like stopping at a red light.
“We have a problem here,” she said in an interview. “The world is paralyzed, people have lost their livelihood, health, and hope. When you put all these things on the scale, come on, just fertilize! And if you really don’t want that, stay home.”
To solve this dilemma, and meet the needs of people under the age of 16, the government has permitted accommodations A quick test As an alternative to the green corridor. But many business owners, responsible for ordering and financing the test stations, have found the logistics impractical.
Unlike concerts and soccer matches, going to work is not a luxury for most people.
The help of a teacher at a school for children with special needs in central Israel refused to be vaccinated or, as her employer, the town of Kochav Yair Tzur Igal, demanded that she submit a negative Covid test on a weekly basis.
The school banned her from entering work, with support from the city council.
The assistant teacher, Sigal Avishai, has appealed to the Tel Aviv Labor Court. She said that the council’s demands “violated her privacy” and “without a legal basis,” and that the requirement for a weekly test “was aimed at pressuring her to get vaccinated against her beliefs,” according to court documents.
Last month, the court ruled against her, saying that her rights must be balanced with the rights of faculty, children, and their parents to “life, education, and health,” citing the particular vulnerability of the children involved.
In a country with high doses, access to the vaccine is not a problem, said Gil Gan Moore, director of the Civil and Social Rights Unit at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
In Israel, he said, “Anyone who complains can get the vaccine tomorrow morning.”
But in the absence of legislation, employers were setting their own policies. At least one college of higher education has been relying on labor court precedent to require all staff and students to have a Green Pass in order to attend classes on campus.
In another court case, the Ministry of Health wanted to distribute lists of unvaccinated people to local authorities so that authorities could, for example, identify unvaccinated teachers who had returned to school and try to convince them to get vaccinated.
Citizens’ rights groups filed a lawsuit to prevent the ministry from distributing the lists, arguing that this was a breach of privacy and that medical information could not be adequately protected. The case is before the Supreme Court.
Even when rules exist, implementation is sporadic.
The concert in Tel Aviv was the first time I was asked to show my green pass – and the last. Since then, my family has spent the weekend at a bed and breakfast in the Galilee where breakfast was served in a closed room for all guests, including unvaccinated children. A busy Italian restaurant in the area explained that it did not comply with the regulations, offering us indoor seating with a 7-year-old child.
Back in Jerusalem, when I called the reservation for two at my favorite restaurant, which serves fresh, expensive market food from a lively open kitchen, I was asked if we both had green cards. But when we arrived, no one asked to see them.
Tables are positioned more comfortably than ever. Strangers sat shoulder to shoulder at the bar. Our young waitress was revealed. One dinner at the next table wondered how safe everything was for Covid, then shrugged and continued eating dessert.
Some restaurant owners and managers have complained that the epidemic has caused a chronic shortage of staff and that they cannot be expected to monitor customers as well.
“It’s embarrassing,” said Eran Avishai, a part-owner of a restaurant in Jerusalem. “I have to ask people all kinds of personal questions.” He said some clients have come up with excuses and notes explaining why they were not vaccinated, and “all kinds of things I don’t want to hear about.”
However, some restaurants strictly adhere to the regulations, even checking the green lane against customer IDs. Based on experience, friends share tips and recommendations on Facebook regarding entry policies for local restaurants and irrigation pits. At least one hipster bar in Jerusalem asks unfamiliar customers only to show green lanes and use the system to drive away the unwanted.
I feel a personal sense of lightness and comfort as I continue my new fortified life. I even caught myself one day in the supermarket without wearing my mask, which is still in demand in public places.
We live in wonderful isolation. Virus restrictions still make most travel a daunting proposition and generally non-Israelis cannot enter the country. I miss my family on the outside. Until the rest of the world catches up, we are a nation in a bubble.