Arieh Kovler

Israel scraps its redundant vaccine passports

(Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

So farewell, then, to Israel’s vaccine passport, the green pass. Less than three months after coming into effect, the Covid vaccination certification scheme was scrapped today, along with almost all of the remaining Covid-19 restrictions in public places.

Israel was the first country to introduce a vaccine passport back in March. Cafes, bars, restaurants, gyms and plays were allowed to reopen to the public after months of lockdown, provided they only admitted vaccinated (and recovered) people. The pass took the form of a QR code downloaded from the health ministry or stored in a phone app.

The scheme was vocally opposed by a small and passionate minority, but most Israelis were just relieved to be able to return to something approaching normality. Restaurateurs and gym owners, meanwhile, were happy they could finally reopen, even if they were sometimes frustrated by the restrictions the green pass imposed. In particular, venues were effectively banned from admitting children, who aren’t eligible for vaccination — fine for bars, terrible for cinemas and ice cream parlours.

The scaremongers who said that vaccine certificates would be some lasting form of social control were wrong.

In reality, though, cafes were full of kids as the green pass was widely ignored. In the last three months, I was only asked to show my pass twice. A few times I was asked if I had one, but taken at my word without needing to show the ‘paperwork’. Most often, I wasn’t challenged at all. Enforcement of the green pass rules was close to non-existent; as long as coronavirus cases kept falling, nobody was very bothered.

And cases did continue plummeting. On Sunday, just four new cases were recorded out of 21,000 tests, a tiny 0.02 per cent. Only 94 Israelis are in hospital with Covid-19 currently — and deaths have almost stopped entirely.

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