Israel’s green passes and pubs: ‘smart move’ despite staff vaccine ‘absurdity’

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

'Green pass': the inoculated are issued with a PDF "card” featuring a QR code that a venue operator can scan to confirm entry, according to Lion Krakover of Sputnik in Tel Aviv
'Green pass': the inoculated are issued with a PDF "card” featuring a QR code that a venue operator can scan to confirm entry, according to Lion Krakover of Sputnik in Tel Aviv

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After a recent YouGov survey found that more than half (56%) of Brits support vaccine passports for pub entry, The Morning Advertiser examined how well a similar system has worked in Israel.

YouGov’s poll found that 58% of Brits would support the introduction of a far-reaching passport system as soon as possible – even before the completion of the vaccine rollout. 

What’s more, in February the Government revealed plans to evaluate the possible use of vaccine passports for entry into pubs​ and other venues​.

If signed off, it could allow pubs to turn customers away if they are unable to provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test. 

A similar system has already been implemented in Israel which, as of 14 March, had provided at least one dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine to 59.7% of its 9.3m population. 

According to reports in The Guardian​, almost half of those who have chosen to be vaccinated will be provided with a “green pass” a week after their second jab, as will those with presumed immunity having contracted Covid-19.

Though initially providing access to gyms, hotels, swimming pools, concerts, and places of worship, hospitality venues were included from early March.

Vaccine passport-2

Staff vaccine ‘absurdity’ 

According to Lion Krakover of Sputnik in Tel Aviv, the “very simple” green pass system sees the inoculated issued with a PDF "card" featuring a QR code that a venue operator can scan to confirm entry.  

As such his staff have been able to grant green pass holders – who are issued with a bracelet or stamp upon entry – access to private, more enclosed, areas of his site, while capacity limits and social distancing rules are imposed on the site’s courtyard space.

Though all of Krakover’s team have been vaccinated, he nonetheless describes the fact that they can staff a venue implementing a green pass policy having not received a vaccine themselves as an “absurdity”. 

“I understand this is due to a constitutional problem – as an employer I am not allowed to oblige the employee to get vaccinated, but I am allowed to oblige them for ‘frequent’ corona tests, according to the wording of regulations,” he told The Morning Advertiser (MA)​. “So what is frequent? 

“It is a very serious problem, because in the end it is mandatory for customers to be vaccinated and staff not.”

At the time of writing, Dan Hoshen had reopened Potion – also in Tel Aviv – for “a few days” under Israel’s green pass system, with doormen handling the literal ins and outs of the scheme as opposed to burdening wait or front of house teams with extra training.

While describing the passes as a “smart move”, he tells The MA​ that although the system appears to be working, he, like Krakover, finds it “amazing” that his staff do not have to have any proof of vaccination before returning to work.

According to a recent poll, more than half of The MA’s​ Twitter followers (55.3%) back prioritising hospitality workers​ in the vaccine rollout amid claims that such a measure "makes economic as well as health sense”.


‘Great feeling’ 

As reported by The MA ​in February​despite Israel’s successful vaccine rollout and suggestions that “all eyes are on Israel” by UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls, Krakover explained that there had not been “even a shred of guidance”​ regarding reopening plans.

In addition to the present confusion over staff vaccination, Krakover adds that in-venue guidelines are, once again, unclear.

“For example, there are very large spaces that are limited to a small number of people because the laws are not tailored to specific types of businesses,” he explains.

“Funny thing is that the law enforcement agencies themselves do not know exactly how to enforce the guidelines in bars.”

However, despite the issues around staff vaccination and unclear guidelines, Krakover adds that a large degree of positivity has returned to both his venue and others since the introduction of green passes.

“There is a great feeling in the streets,” he says. “Enforcement agencies are very patient and there is a much more permissive feeling. 

“The first week was wonderful, lots of young people are vaccinated and life is back to normal.”

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