Israel, with a large part of its population immunized, today took another step towards normality: citizens were able to remove the mask in the open air after a year of imposing its mandatory use to contain the virus, and schools resumed face-to-face classes full time without division into small groups.
Without great restrictions, with an almost total reopening and an atmosphere reminiscent of pre-pandemic times, many Israelis took to the streets today without their masks on, optimistic that they continue to leave the pandemic behind after a swift vaccination that led to a sustained decrease in morbidity.
But the masks do not disappear completely: they are still mandatory indoors, and Health recommends using them also in large meetings or crowded outdoor areas.
Given this, perhaps also due to an already acquired custom, many still walked around Jerusalem today with the mask that covered their mouth and nose, or placed on their chin to quickly put it on if they had to enter a shop or get on the bus.
"I left home without the mask on, but after a while I put it back on because I felt strange, as if I were naked," Tuval Wolf, a young Israeli who was walking down a pedestrian street in the Holy City, told EFE. stuffy mouth and nose.
For others like Yoav Menuhin, a 23-year-old student in Israel, going outside and "breathing without the filter of the mask" was "liberating" and even "exciting", a symbol of "optimism" that illustrates how the country continues successfully returned to a certain normality.
However, he considered that the population should be "cautious" in this new normal and not forget to wear the mask indoors, since "it is not yet clear if vaccines immunize" against new variants of the virus that could change the situation and increase morbidity.
Israel diagnosed seven cases of the virus strain initially detected in India on Friday, of which little is known yet. The authorities are now investigating whether the mutation is resistant or not the vaccine and the degree of contagion that it could lead to.
Above all, Health in Israel urges strict adherence to the new regulations and to maintain hygiene and social distance to avoid infections.
"The great challenge is to carry the mask in your pocket and put it on every time you get to a closed or crowded place," said the national coordinator of the pandemic, Nachman Ash, who warned that the country has not yet achieved mass immunization despite your progress.
Israel has already vaccinated more than 5.3 million people with at least one dose of the vaccine and almost 5 million with both, which is more than half of its population of about 9 million.
The vaccination - one of the fastest in the world - greatly reduced infections, deaths and patients in serious condition. At this time there are only about two hundred hospitalized in critical condition, and the active patients are just over 2,500.
Daily infections in Israel have also been reduced: yesterday only 85 new cases were detected, with a percentage of positives of 0.8%, a very low figure compared to the peak of more than 10,000 infections in 24 hours that the country registered at the end of January.
Even so, Ash warned that victory cannot yet be claimed: despite the large number of vaccinated and the 830,000 Israelis who overcame the virus, it is necessary to reach "75% of the population inoculated and / or recovered" to achieve the desired immunization of flock.
BACK TO NORMALITY IN SCHOOLS
Another sector that sees recent progress is education. After having gradually returned to normality this February to classrooms with restrictions, bubble groups and combining virtual and face-to-face lessons, some 2.5 million students today resumed classes full time and without having to be separated into "capsules" .
The measures are for both nursery school children and primary and secondary school students, who from today will be able to go to class between five and six days a week, as was usual before the virus.
The limitations they had to move between classrooms are also lifted, but they must continue to ventilate rooms, maintain social distance and wear masks in class, the Ministry of Education specified today in a statement.