New normal? 'Green Pass' opens music concert to vaccinated Israelis

A musician plays his guitar in a concert where the audience had to show their "Green Pass", a pass for those vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or those with presumed immunity, to enter a live performance by Israeli singer Nurit Galron, at Yarkon park, in Tel Aviv, Israel February 24, 2021. REUTERS
It was an event that could set a precedent in a world longing for a return to normal - a music concert attended by scores of Israelis vaccinated against COVID-19.

The open-air concert in Tel Aviv on Wednesday was one of the first in a programme to restart cultural events by restricting attendance to people who have been vaccinated or those with immunity after contracting the disease.

Attendees were required to show a "Green Pass", a government-validated certificate showing they had received both doses of the vaccine more than a week prior to the event or that they had recovered from COVID-19 and were presumed immune.

The passes are valid for six months from the time of full vaccination.

"It provides protection, but also a feeling of comfort to sit among people who are vaccinated," said Doron Zicher, a retired businessman who was preparing to watch Israeli singer Nurit Galron perform at dusk in Yarkon Park.

"After a year staying at home in a sort of isolated environment it feels great to go out and experience public shows and activities."

Israel launched the pass scheme at the weekend as it reopened its economy. Nearly half of Israelis have received the first of two required doses.

Gyms, swimming pools, theatres and hotels are open to pass-holders only. Once inside, strict caps on occupancy and social distancing requirements are enforced.

Such programmes are likely to be scrutinised by other countries looking to reopen for business as their own populations undergo mass vaccination.

Health officials in Israel, which has led the world with its fast roll-out using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, hope the scheme will act as an incentive for vaccine sceptics.

Israeli studies have shown the Pfizer vaccine reduces transmission of the virus.

"If I need to go to a cultural place where they don't ask for the green passport I wouldn't go," said Michal Porat, 66. "I want to know and to be sure that all the people that are next to me are already immune and vaccinated, and I wouldn't trust people who are not."