- Israel took another step toward normality on Sunday, rescinding its outdoor mask mandate.
- Its vaccine rollout has been remarkably fast, with more than half of adults fully vaccinated.
- Israel’s prime minister praised the progress but said the virus could return.
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With more than half of its population fully vaccinated, Israel on Sunday dropped its outdoor mask mandate.
Masks are still required in indoor public spaces, like stores, malls, and places of worship. But the change was a stark signal of the country’s progress against the pandemic, powered by one of the earliest and fastest vaccine rollouts.
The outdoor masking rule was in place continuously for about a year.
On Monday, the country also took another step toward a pre-COVID-19 reality, fully reopening schools for the first time since September.
According to The New York Times’ vaccinations tracker, 60% of Israel’s population has had a first dose of the vaccine, while 56% have had both. The country’s population is about 9 million.
About 81% of Israelis older than 16 have been fully vaccinated, Reuters reported. People under the age of 16 are not eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Israel has overseen a rapid rollout, and the effects appear to be showing. Sam Sokol reported for Insider this was possible through the country securing a large number of doses early and helped by the country’s centralized, data-driven healthcare system.
A flexible approach to distributing leftover doses also reduced waste and sped things up, Insider’s Susie Neilson reported.
Daily new cases reached a peak in January and tailed off to the low hundreds in April, Johns Hopkins University’s data showed.
“We are leading the world right now when it comes to emerging from the coronavirus,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, according to Reuters. “[But] we have still not finished with the coronavirus. It can return.”
Israel started requiring people to wear masks outdoors in April…