Oleg Ivanyukov, the owner of Fitness Land in Rishon Lezion, said his staff were looking forward to welcoming back customers, but he had some concerns that the passport rule could be discriminatory.

“I am not a cop or an inspector, so we will just ask them if they have been vaccinated,” he said.

“I’m not going to ask to see the certificate, but if they have been vaccinated then they are welcome.”

Israeli officials say they are aware of attempts to create forged vaccine passports and have warned that trying to use one to enter a restricted venue will be a criminal offence.

The restrictions will not apply to museums and libraries, raising questions as to whether those venues could become incubators for the virus, while essential shops such as supermarkets will also remain open to all.

Many Israeli shopkeepers already place electronic thermometers outside their stores to deter those with Covid symptoms from going inside. And, last week, restaurants were allowed to reopen their doors to offer takeaways. 

Israel has also partially reopened schools to young pupils and those taking final exams, and on Sunday grades 5-6 and 11-12 will also be allowed back in areas with a low rate of coronavirus infections. 

To date, Israel has given the first of two jabs to around four million of its 9.1m citizens, while the vast majority of over-60s have been fully vaccinated.

The Covid infection rate remains relatively high, which has been blamed on mutations such as the UK strain.

But a new drug that can substantially ease severe Covid symptoms in as little as two hours is being seen as a major gamechanger. 

The drug, Allocetra, was designed by Professor Dror Mevorach, the head of the coronavirus department at Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem, and is being tested on ventilated patients.

Prof Mevorach said the drug, which is administered through an IV drip, works to “calm down” a patients’ immune system as it goes into overdrive in an attempt to fight off the virus. 

The phenomenon, known to doctors as “cytokine storms,” leads to organ failure and frequently results in death.

“I do hope that everyone will get vaccinated, however this drug can significantly reduce the burden on hospitals,” Prov Mevorach said.  

“With this drug it is possible to reduce the average period that a patient spends [in intensive care] from 14-20 days to just seven days.”

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