Israel scraps indoor mask order as COVID-19 infections wane

June 15, 2021 - 7:55 PM
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A healthcare worker takes a swab sample from an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test, after returning from overseas, at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel April 13, 2021. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo)

JERUSALEM — Israel told its citizens they could stop wearing masks indoors on Tuesday, ending one of its last main restrictions as new COVID-19 infections continued to wane even as vaccinations tapered off after a record rollout.

Children headed to school and adults to work without masks for the first time in more than a year. Israelis have not had to wear masks outdoors since April.

About 55% of Israel‘s 9.3 million population are fully vaccinated – a turnout largely unchanged by this month’s expansion of eligibility to include 12- to 15-year-olds.

Israel has this month logged either zero or one daily COVID-19 deaths, Health Ministry data show. New infections have been in a steady but gentle decline after a steep drop-off in February and March.

The ministry said masks would still be required of unvaccinated patients or staff in medical facilities, of people en route to quarantine and of passengers on commercial flights. —Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Andrew Heavens