In pictures: World’s first event open only to people who have had a COVID vaccine

Connor Parker
·5-min read
Israelis watching a concert after showing their
Israelis watching a concert after showing their 'green pass' which proves they have had both doses of the vaccine. (Getty)

Music concerts are being held once again in Israel in a way that could set a precedent in a world longing for a return to normal as soon as possible - attendees had to present a vaccine passport to gain entry.

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 COVID.

The concert still had strict social distancing rules. (Getty)
The concert still had strict social distancing rules. (Getty)

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Attendees were required to show a government-validated "green pass" 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.

Israelis showing their
Israelis showing their 'green pass' vaccine passports. (Getty)

"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."

An Israeli woman showing her
An Israeli woman showing her 'green pass' to get into the gig. (Getty)

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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.

Officials checking green passes to allow entry to the concert. (Getty)
Officials checking green passes to allow entry to the concert. (Getty)

The country's vaccine passport system is likely to be watched by other countries who are looking to reopen their economies as soon as possible.

Health officials in Israel, which has led the world with its fast vaccine rollout, hope the scheme will act as an incentive for vaccine sceptics.

People were still required to wear a mask at the concert. (Getty)
People were still required to wear a mask at the concert. (Getty)

Israeli studies have shown the Pfizer-BioNTech 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."

The UK government is currently investigating whether to implement a vaccine passport system.

Until recently ministers and senior Tories have said they did not support such a system fearing it would force people to get a vaccine indirectly.

In the past few days the government has changed tack and Boris Johnson has asked Michael Gove to lead an inquiry into if they could be useful.

Watch: COVID-19: Vaccine passports 'could allow summer sports events at full capacity'

He announced the inquiry when he revealed England's roadmap out of lockdown which hopes to end social distancing and have the economy back to mostly normal by 21 June.

It is expected testing and some amount of mask-wearing will continue until after that.

The success of the vaccine rollout is vital to lifting lockdown and the potential of letting people who have had the vaccine access facilities earlier could be attractive to both business and the general population.

The government has committed to offering a vaccine to all adults in the UK by 31 July, but if a vaccine passport was introduced earlier it could lead to some resentment – especially among the youngest who are likely to be offered the jab last.

Vaccine passports will be used across Isreal. (Getty)
Vaccine passports will be used across Isreal. (Getty)

Speaking at a school in south London on Tuesday, the prime minister told reporters that the introduction of such certificates should not discriminate against those who opt out of receiving the jab.

“There are deep and complex issues that we need to explore, and ethical issues about what the role is for government in mandating or for people to have such a thing or indeed in banning from people doing such a thing,” he said.

“We can’t be discriminatory against people who for whatever reason can’t have the vaccine. There might be medical reasons why people can’t have a vaccine.

“Or some people may genuinely refuse to have one. I think that’s mistaken, I think everybody should have a vaccine, but we need to thrash all this out.”

It is understood that the government review will look at the possibility of the NHS coronavirus app featuring a digital health passport, which would carry details of vaccinations and negative test results.

Proof of a recent negative coronavirus test or having been vaccinated could then be used to attend a particular event if required by organisers.

The combination of the two could be a way of avoiding discriminating against people who have had the vaccine.

It is expected vaccine passports for international travel will be much more likely as a way to get tourism going again without the risk of importing the virus.