Israel nears 50% vaccinations, reopening further

Israel is reopening large sections of its economy again, and the country's vaccination drive has now reached almost half of its population.

Shopping malls and leisure facilities, among other businesses, have restarted, almost exactly a year since Israel's first documented coronavirus case.

The government is crediting its rapid vaccine rollout for making it possible. Israel has had one of the most aggressive and fastest vaccination drives in the world, after three national lockdowns which received some criticism for patchy enforcement.

It's not a complete return to normal. Social distancing is still being enforced. Access to gyms, hotels, and theaters are also being restricted to people with what's called a "Green Pass."

The pass certifies that a person has had both doses of a vaccine for more than a week, or that they've recovered from COVID and are presumed to have immunity.

Likewise, middle schools are still closed. High schools and elementary schools are open, but only in towns where the disease is under control.

The government has pledged not to have a fourth lockdown, although an official in charge pandemic response has said that with half the country not yet immune, it's still a possibility.