On Friday, revelers crowded into Tel Aviv’s streets for the city’s annual Pride parade, with rainbow flags billowing in the Mediterranean air, however others expressed concern about a recent surge of COVID-19 cases.
After being canceled last year due to coronavirus concerns, Israel’s fast immunization drive allowed the seaside march to take place. An estimated 100,000 people were in attendance.
“It’s all still a bit weird. It’s incredible to see so many people outside, as well as the music and joy… I’m still adjusting to it “Mor Eliezri, 26, was one of a small group of demonstrators who wore a face mask.
Over 55% of Israel’s population is vaccinated, new COVID-19 infections have plummeted and the country has eased most health restrictions.
But a recent uptick in cases attributed to the highly-infectious Delta variant prompted health officials on Friday to mandate masks indoors again and recommend they be worn during large outdoor events – specifically mentioning the pride parade.
“There is a sense in Israel that everything is done, COVID is behind us. But it seems it’s not … will it ever end? I’m not so sure,” Eliezri said.
As crowds waved blue-and-white Israeli flags emblazoned with hearts and danced through the streets, some said the hardships endured during the pandemic had made them less afraid of a new outbreak.
“We overcame so many things, and we can overcome this too. It’s the reality of the world today,” said Maayan Sharet, 33.
“If we have (to) lockdown for a while, we’ll find a way to do it happily, and get back to life.”