Israel’s Speedy Vaccination Campaign Now Faces Key Test in Returning to Normal

TEL AVIV—Israel lifted restrictions on most commerce and public activity, opening malls, markets and museums—and requiring the use of a pass for some activities, to document vaccination status.

Sunday’s moves illustrate how Israel, which rolled out the world’s fastest Covid-19 vaccination campaign, is combining incentives and threats to get the rest of its population vaccinated—and how it learned from missteps.

The nation is reopening after having some of the worst infection rates for months, as many flouted lockdowns, and more recently, a British variant of the disease ran rampant. Commercial activity largely sputtered to a halt. “For Rent” signs have proliferated on the once-bustling oceanside avenues of this city.

The opening up and use of what officials are calling green passports, which allow people to enter gyms and hotels and eventually embark on quarantine-free travel, set up a test for one of the most closely watched countries during the pandemic: Can Israel return to relative normalcy without slipping back into peak infection rates and overwhelming its healthcare system?

To strike that balance, officials are warning those who shun the national vaccination campaign that they will be shut out of everyday activities. “Anyone who does not get vaccinated will be left behind,” Israel’s health minister Yuli Edelstein said.

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