Health Ministry: Indoor mask mandate to be reinstated today at 12:00 pm

Science and Health

The Health Ministry announced Friday morning that it is reinstating the indoor mask mandate beginning at 12:00 pm, due to the spread of the new Delta coronavirus variant. 

Masks must be worn in all indoor spaces other than a permanent living space. 

The following are exempt from the new coronavirus mask mandate: 

1. Children below age 7
2. Someone who cannot wear a mask due to a disability
3. Someone who is alone
4. Two workers who permanently work in the same room.
5. During physical exercise
In addition, the Health Ministry recommends to wear a mask at large gathering held outdoors. The Ministry also recommends that people who are at-risk or are not vaccinated refrain from attending gatherings of any sort.

There were 227 new coronavirus cases in Israel in over the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry announced Friday morning. An additional 35 cases have been confirmed since midnight. The Health Ministry also announced they conducted 41,331 tests, with around 0.6% of them returning positive results. As of Friday morning, 26 of the current patients are in serious condition, with 16 intubated.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced that he is treating the spread of the Delta variant as a new outbreak. 
“The Delta variant, sometimes called the Indian variant, is currently spreading rapidly around the world with a much higher infection rate than we were familiar with,” he said. “Unfortunately, we are seeing the beginning of a virus spread within the State of Israel, and we do not always know how to locate its source.”
The new outbreak was first discovered last week in several schools in Binyamina and Modi’in. In light of the number of infected people, Binyamina was classified on Thursday as red according to the ministry’s traffic light system.  Thursday also marked the fourth day in a row that the country registered over 100 new daily cases and the new outbreaks spread to several more municipalities, including Kfar Saba, Ramle and Herzliya. The number of new virus carriers registered on Thursday were the highest since April.

The outbreaks were mostly caused by breaches of quarantine by people returning from abroad. However, the levels of infection are a fraction of what they were at the height of the pandemic during the winter, and the rise in serious case has been minimal. 
The annual Tel Aviv gay pride parade is scheduled to begin today at 12:00, with thousands expected to attend. In its announcement, the Health Ministry explicitly mentioned pride events as an example of a large outdoor gathering where masks should be worn. Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman and Rossella Tercatin contributed to this report.