Anshel Pfeffer

In Israel, vaccine passports are already redundant

[Getty Images]


The vaccination centre where I got my jabs was in the cavernous foyer of the Jerusalem Arena, Israel’s largest indoor sports venue. Through the locked glass doors, I could see the seats where my 15-year-old and I spent so many hours cheering on our basketball team. Putting my ear to the door, I could hear the players practising.

Last week, we were finally back in the stands after a year’s absence. Fans were allowed in, at quarter of the arena’s capacity. After showing my season ticket, I was then asked for my ‘green pass’, which proves I have been vaccinated. My son, too young for vaccination, had to queue outside for a quick Covid test before joining me. In the month since I downloaded my vaccination passport to my smartphone, this was only the second time I’d been asked to present it.

Everything seemed organised when we arrived at the stadium but it quickly transformed into regular chaos. The announcer reminded the fans to maintain a two-metre distance from each other, but no one paid attention and the stewards weren’t enforcing it either. In the three-quarters empty stadium, everyone gravitated to the courtside seats we can’t normally afford.

This is a disorientating time to be in -Israel. More than 90 per cent of Israeli adults are now either vaccinated or have recovered from the coronavirus. It is a world-beating achievement. Restaurants and bars, as well as sports and music venues, reopened a month ago, after nearly a year of lockdowns and strict social distancing. Some restrictions remain in place, such as the unnecessary requirement for face masks to be worn in open spaces. All activities are officially subject to those attending having a green pass.

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