Proof of Vaccination Proves I Care About Life | Rachel Gould
I went to the store earlier this week to return some clothes we had ordered online. When I got to the store I stood in line for my ride, showed my proof of vaccination and ID to the clerk at the door, and walked in. So easy. Everyone was happy to participate in this painless process. A process that protects us all. A process that signals to others that we value protecting the health of the community in which we actively participate. A process in place now in every store here.
I should stop here for a moment and clarify something. This summer we moved from northwest Israel to northwest Germany. I now live in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) in Germany. I have resident status and therefore have a German ID card (no, it does not indicate that I am Jewish) and I am treated by the German health system.
For a long time, we have had a 3G rule here: you must be vaccinated (geimpft), retrieved (genesen), or have a valid negative test (getestet) to access public places. Until a few weeks ago, the application of this policy was relatively informal – you presented proof of your 3G status when requested, and in most places it was not requested. Children are tested at school if they are not vaccinated or cured; their student card is sufficient proof of their 3G status when the school is in session.
As infection rates started to climb recently, the national government was able to work with the governments of the 16 states to come up with a new policy of 2G and 2G +. Even with a relatively high vaccination rate and booster shots available to all, the government has chosen to act and act decisively. The G we released is tested (getestet). If you want to go to a store (other than a grocery store or pharmacy), you must present proof of vaccination or convalescence. The same goes for events and even outdoor activities like Christmas markets. And some events deemed 2G + (like my children’s concert at school) require everyone to be tested, regardless of vaccination and recovery status. Children under 16 are not included in this requirement when tested in school. And yes, everyone here masks and only with approved types of masks – N95 or surgical masks.
It is life here and it is not a problem for anyone. We are all members of a society with an obligation to behave in a way that protects others. And if I don’t want to do what is asked of me to protect others, that is my choice, and I will find that my access to society is limited because I choose to opt out. Just to be clear, I am cured, vaccinated and boosted against this virus.
I was appalled to hear the dangerous rhetoric of Minister Eli Avidar in a TOI article on plans to reinstate the Green Pass. I understand that he and others see this as “madness” or a “blow to the citizens” as it is quoted in the article. We can also see the situation differently and that is what we all need to do these days. It is not a burden for employees to request proof of immunization status and identity. It’s no more difficult than the mall security guard looking in my bag or trunk and asking if we have a gun with us. This is normal for life in Israel. And it must be our normal right now to get through this pandemic.
What these rules indicate is that the government is taking the situation with this virus seriously. This allows the company to signal that it takes this situation seriously and that it attaches importance to protecting the health of its employees and customers. This allows me to signal that I take my responsibility seriously to do what is asked of me to protect public health.
These regulations don’t seem to be slowing down the business sector here. If anything, the lines now in all companies while we wait for our information to be confirmed tell others that these companies are doing well. The demand to go to the stores is clear and visible. And that makes sense because we, like in Israel, have a high vaccination rate. In addition, during outdoor events, the bracelets given to us allow us to move around easily and show our status easily.
If Minister Avidar is truly concerned about the economic consequences of such a policy, he should act to put in place strong economic policies to support these companies in the face of this new reality. Do not bicker with your colleagues, especially within the coalition. Stop gesticulating and demagoguery. Step up and come up with a plan that solves the harm you see in the economy. Signal that the government is taking this seriously and support the workers, don’t make them pawns or use them as excuses.
We need to reframe this whole discussion. It is about reciprocity. Reciprocity with citizens who must take the necessary measures to protect others, including himself. With businesses that make up our economy and depend on healthy citizens who can work and shop. With the government that is supposed to make the country work economically and socially. We are all in the same boat and depend on each other to get through this pandemic. Our systems break down when we forget how interconnected we are with each other. This interconnection is a two-way street and we seem to have forgotten about it.
Economic losses can be compensated. The lost lives are gone forever.
Rachel Gould made her Aliya in 2010 in Haifa and now lives in Yokneam. She is a doctoral candidate in public policy at TAU and focuses on environmental and demographic policies. She was a candidate for the Yokneam city council on the Mekomi list in 2018.