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Israel adopts law allowing names of unvaccinated to be shared

Israel’s parliament today passed a law allowing the government to share the identities of people not vaccinated against the coronavirus with other authorities. 

The move on Wednesday has raising privacy concerns for those opting out of inoculation.

The measure, which passed with 30 votes for and 13 against, gives local governments, the director general of the education ministry and some in the welfare ministry the right to receive the names, addresses and phone numbers of unvaccinated citizens.

The objective of the measure — valid for three months or until the Covid-19 pandemic is declared over — is ‘to enable these bodies to encourage people to vaccinate by personally addressing them’, a parliament statement said.

Israel, a country of nine million people, has administered the two recommended jabs of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against the coronavirus to roughly a third of its population.

Israel’s parliament today passed a law allowing the government to share the identities of people not vaccinated against the coronavirus with other authorities (File  image) 

As it emerges from lockdown, the country is restricting certain services, including access to gyms and indoor dining, to the vaccinated only, giving a so-called green pass to the fully inoculated.

That too has raised concerns about unequal access for those exercising their right to not be vaccinated.

During debate on the measure, Labor party leader Merav Michaeli accused right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of ‘denying citizens their right to the privacy of their medical information’.

The statement from the parliament, or Knesset, said the personal information cannot be used for any purpose other than encouraging people to be vaccinated.

‘The information will be deleted after its use within 60 days,’ according to the law, and ‘a person who was contacted can demand that his details be deleted and that they not be contacted again.’

Haim Katz of Netanyahu’s Likud party defended the law as a means to promote vaccination.

‘I’ve been asked what about people’s privacy: Is privacy more important than life itself?’ Katz said in parliament, stressing the information would include nothing beyond the question of whether or not the person was vaccinated.

At a news conference, Netanyahu later called on Israeli citizens to be vaccinated in order to ‘return to normal life’.

The prime minister deplored misleading news about the vaccine, and said Israel aimed to fully inoculate 6.2 million people before the beginning of April.

‘More than a million adults are not yet vaccinated,’ he said, adding that ‘in the world, people are waiting for vaccines, (but) here vaccines are waiting for people’. 

Israel is banking on vaccine passports to re-open its economy with gyms, hotels, restaurants and swimming pools , bars and restaurants open to those with a ‘green pass’ who have had two doses of a jab. 

More than a third of Israel’s 8.6 million population has been fully vaccinated in the world’s quickest immunisation programme against Covid-19, and over three million people are eligible for the pass on account of some having already had the virus.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is hoping that the vaccine success and the end of Israel’s third lockdown will propel him to victory in March 23 elections.

Israel is banking on vaccine passports to re-open its economy with gyms, hotels, restaurants and swimming pools and restaurants open to those with a 'green pass', that indicates who has had two doses of a jab. Pictured: A health worker administers the COVID-19 vaccine to an Israeli at a bar in the coastal city of Tel Aviv

Israel is banking on vaccine passports to re-open its economy with gyms, hotels, restaurants and swimming pools and restaurants open to those with a ‘green pass’, that indicates who has had two doses of a jab. Pictured: A health worker administers the COVID-19 vaccine to an Israeli at a bar in the coastal city of Tel Aviv

The scheme is being closely watched abroad, with Boris Johnson saying on Monday that the UK was looking at the idea of ‘Covid-status certification’ while adding that there were ‘many concerns surrounding exclusion, discrimination and privacy’. 

Israel, which has one of the world’s most sophisticated medical data systems, secured a substantial stock of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by paying above market price and by striking a data-sharing deal with the drug giant. 

As of Sunday, nearly 3.2million Israelis were eligible for the green pass, according to the health ministry.

That includes 2.5million people who had their second shot more than a week ago, as well as nearly 700,000 people who have recovered from Covid-19. 

Shopping malls and stores with street access re-opened to the general public on Sunday, with certain limitations on crowd size.

But gyms, swimming pools, hotels and some cultural facilities are re-opening only to those who have been fully vaccinated and obtained the so-called green pass. 

Lifting weights at a gym in Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv late Saturday, Netanyahu insisted Israel was moving ahead ‘with caution’, while imploring ‘everyone to get vaccinated’.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (pictured on Tuesday) is hoping that the vaccine success and the end of Israel's third lockdown will propel him to victory in March 23 elections

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (pictured on Tuesday) is hoping that the vaccine success and the end of Israel’s third lockdown will propel him to victory in March 23 elections

Standing at the entrance of a posh Tel Aviv gym, 90-year-old Ora Davidovicz said she ‘couldn’t wait’ to go swimming.

‘It’s been almost a year since I went to the pool,’ she said. ‘I’ve been counting the days. All I have to do is put on my swim suit,’ she said, before heading in.

Tom John, a muscular 33-year-old, told AFP he’d been training at home for months but felt safe being back at the gym with the protection systems in place.

‘Everyone here has a green badge,’ he said, surveying the gym.

At the family owned Katalina shoe store in central Tel Aviv, Mordechai Nazarian said his business had been closed for eight of the last 12 months, with ‘little openings here and there’ as Israel lifted restrictions between lockdowns.

‘We hope this one is the right one,’ he told AFP. 

Israel has given more does people per-100 people than any other country in the world. As of February 23, 88.77 people out of 100 have had at least one dose.

By comparison, 27.34 people per 100 have been given at least one dose in the UK, which is still the third highest rate in the world.

Pictured: A visitor presents a coronavirus vaccination certificate at the entrance to the Khan Theatre in Jerusalem, Israel, 23 February 2021

Pictured: A visitor presents a coronavirus vaccination certificate at the entrance to the Khan Theatre in Jerusalem, Israel, 23 February 2021

More than a third of Israel's population has been fully vaccinated in the world's quickest immunisation programme against Covid-19, meaning nearly three million people are eligible for the pass. Pictured: A graph showing Covid vaccine doses per 100 people in various countries, with Israel vaccinating well over over 80 people per 100

More than a third of Israel’s population has been fully vaccinated in the world’s quickest immunisation programme against Covid-19, meaning nearly three million people are eligible for the pass. Pictured: A graph showing Covid vaccine doses per 100 people in various countries, with Israel vaccinating well over over 80 people per 100

At the Third Ear record store in Tel Aviv, 32-year-old Itay Shimon said he hadn’t been in a record store in many months, but was enjoying just browsing the aisles.

Describing himself as a vaccine supporter, he also voiced caution about compelling people to get the jab.

‘We cannot force those who don’t want it to do it,’ he said.

Despite the successful vaccination Israel’s government has approved a night-time curfew from Thursday until Sunday to prevent the spread of the coronavirus over the Purim holiday.

The Prime Minister’s Office and Health Ministry said a curfew from 8:30 p.m. until 5 a.m. would be in force starting Purim eve.

The Health Ministry has reported over 759,000 cases and at least 5,634 deaths from COVID-19. Pictured: Graphs showing seven-day rolling average of daily new coronavirus infections in Israel (top) and daily new coronavirus-related deaths (bottom)

The Health Ministry has reported over 759,000 cases and at least 5,634 deaths from COVID-19. Pictured: Graphs showing seven-day rolling average of daily new coronavirus infections in Israel (top) and daily new coronavirus-related deaths (bottom)

Purim, a Jewish holiday traditionally marked with public festivities and gatherings, begins Thursday at sundown. 

The holiday lockdown prohibits any large gatherings of more than 10 people indoors at concerts, parades or parties typical of the holiday’s observances.

Israel reopened its economy last week after a nearly two-month lockdown, the country’s third since the start of the pandemic. But recent days have seen a slight uptick in new infections.

It has one of the highest immunisation rates per capita, with over 4.5 million of its citizens having received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

The Health Ministry has reported over 759,000 cases and at least 5,634 deaths from COVID-19.


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