Israel creates vaccine passport to coerce citizens into get shot, EU contemplating it, US next?
#UnitedStates #Israel #Passport #Vaccine #EU
There is a new rule at Meir Elbaz's synagogue near Tel Aviv. Only people who can produce a green pass, Israel's new Covid passport, may cross the threshold. If you don't have one of the highly-prized passes, you are relegated to the courtyard and forced to listen to prayers through the open windows.
'It's a harsh rule to impose but it's for a really good reason, and ultimately it's the kind of approach that will allow Israel to quickly return to normality,' said Elbaz, a 29-year-old logistics manager.
Last week was the carnival-themed Jewish holiday of Purim, when the whole congregation traditionally attends prayers in fancy dress. It's the highlight of the calendar for children and the place is normally filled with youngsters dressed as princes, princesses, superheroes and animals, given a once-a-year right to make as much noise as they like.
But only adults can get green passes and it's hard to hear prayers from the courtyard, so Elbaz's 18-month-old daughter – like all the other children – stayed home, with only her mother to admire her ladybird outfit.
It's a stark example of how the new virus certificate, introduced on February 21, is changing Israel. Anyone above the age of 16, the minimum age at which you can be given the vaccine, can download the government-issued certificate to their phone if they have been inoculated against Covid or have recovered from the virus.
The certificate features a QR code that, once scanned, checks Israeli health records to confirm that the holder has received both doses of the Covid vaccine.
It can also be printed out on paper, allowing the smartphone-averse ultra-Orthodox community to also benefit from the scheme.
The government sees the system as having a key role to play in opening up society following the success of its world-beating vaccination programme which has seen public clinics give at least one dose to half the population.
Latest data indicates that the vaccine is proving to be 94 per cent effective. And for the first time in months, Israelis have flocked to gyms and swimming pools last week, with access legally restricted to those who could present a green pass at the door.
The system will also be introduced at cafes, bars and restaurants as they are allowed to open over the coming weeks.
'Opening these places is a big deal as recreational activities like eating out are a huge part of our culture and we're all excited,' said Joseph Gitler, chairman of Leket Israel, the national food bank. He added: 'We've been seeing chefs and other furloughed restaurant staff turning up at our soup kitchens for meals, and the chance to kickstart our huge hospitality sector will do wonders in reducing poverty.'
The launch of the passport is also welcome news for concert promoter Ronit Arbel.
She is used to laying on gigs for the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga and Eric Clapton but, thanks to the pandemic, it will be some time before she hosts any more global icons.
Instead she will be organising concerts for local acts and, in another twist, she will be concentrating on those that appeal to an older demographic.
As most people who have been vaccinated so far – and are thus eligible for a green pass – are in the 60-plus age group, Arbel's target market is now the elderly rather than the young.
She has predicted that artists who play music from the 1950s and 60s could be about to find themselves inundated with bookings.
She added: 'All over the world, people are struggling with the loss of cultural events but I'm now starting to be optimistic, and think that the green pass will make Israel the first to revive.'
|Category||News & Politics|
|Sensitivity||Normal - Content that is suitable for ages 16 and over|
Warning - This video exceeds your sensitivity preference!
To dismiss this warning and continue to watch the video please click on the button below.
Note - Autoplay has been disabled for this video.