Israel Scraps Mask Mandate
Israel on Wednesday canceled the requirement to wear masks indoors amid a drop in the number of new coronavirus cases. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said in a joint statement that the decision will be in effect starting Saturday night. This coincides with the end of two days of back-to-back holidays – the final day of Passover on Friday, followed by Shabbat.
“In the wake of the decline in coronavirus morbidity, the obligation to wear masks in closed spaces will be lifted,” the statement read. Masks will still be required in indoor spaces where there is a “high potential for infection,” such as hospitals, nursing homes, and flights, and for infected persons. Israel’s Health Ministry said that 4,583 new coronavirus cases were recorded on Wednesday.
As of Tuesday, Israel’s seven-day rolling average number of daily new confirmed cases per million people stood at 426.59. This remains the second-highest in the MENA region, after Cyprus (where the figure was 678.57), and significantly higher than the worldwide figure of 92.38. However, in most of the world, underreporting is higher, and testing is lower, than in Israel.
The current estimated effective reproduction rate (R) in Israel is 0.69, indicating that spread of the infection is gradually decreasing.