Israelis who refuse the Covid-19 vaccine will soon be barred from any indoor or outdoor public venue holding 100 or more people, including synagogues, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has announced.

Those who refuse to get vaccinated “are undermining the efforts of all of us,” Bennett announced on Thursday, as the number of new coronavirus cases in Israel continued to rise. If everyone gets the vaccine, life can return to normal, but if a million people refuse the other eight million will have to endure lockdowns, he said.

“There’s a time when this discussion has to stop,” Bennett told the nation. “Science is clear: the vaccines work, they’re effective, they’re safe.”

Israeli PM Naftali Bennett with #COVID19 update, says those not vaccinated by August 8 will not be allowed entry to indoor events with 100 + people

As of August 8, Bennett announced, anyone who refuses to get vaccinated will no longer be allowed at any venue “above 100 people, both indoor and outdoor” – including theaters, sporting events, and houses of worship. To enter, people will have to show proof of vaccination, proof they had Covid-19 and recovered, or a negative test, obtained at their own expense. 

Israel has been using the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA coronavirus vaccine. On Thursday, the Health Ministry in Tel Aviv said that its effectiveness in preventing infection and mild symptoms has decreased to only 40%, based on data collected over the past month as the Delta variant spread.

Two weeks ago, the Health Ministry had said the vaccine’s efficacy against symptomatic illness stood at 64% and against serious illness at 93%, according to the daily Haaretz.

However, some health experts consulting the ministry have cautioned that the data might be too “distorted” because the studies were conducted in hot spots and among the elderly, rather than the young and the vaccinated.

Bennett, head of the right-wing Yamina party, is serving as alternating PM in partnership with Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid party. Last month, their coalition successfully put together enough votes in the Knesset to end the 12-year reign of Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu. 

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